Return to 203 Index

Dr. Rosalind Latiner Raby

These articles are for ELPS 203 SPRING SEMESTER 2014 class use only.

They are used in class assignments and class discussions.

Mary Catherine Bateson

Beatrice Arias

David Hoff


Joel Spring

Rosalind Barnett & Caryl Rivers

Kurt Bauman

Erika Hayasaki

Young Pai

Studs Terkel

Benji Chang and Wayne Au

Peter Berger


Esther Park

Marilyn Cochran-Smith

Susan Black

Landsberg - B


Gloria Ladson-Billings

Randy Dotinga

Richard Lee

Elizabeth Reyes

Jennie Oakes and Mark Lipton

Elizabeth Farrell

Linda Lin

Richard Rodriquez

Laura Rendon and Richard Hope

Hollyce Giles

Kand McQueen

Joel Sipress

Laurence Wolff - TIMSS

Maureen Hallinan

Roslyn Mickelson

Claire Smrekar


Chapter I: An Educational System in Crisis

By Laura I. Rendon, Richard 0. Hope

The 1990s are an electric time, for the era appears right for shaping the debate about America's future as a multicultural society. It is also a time ripe with hope if the American people choose to confront their demographic reality and respond to a clarion call about making a truly significant difference for students who have for so long been the victims of extreme neglect. The American people are facing one of the most dramatic cultural transformations in history. Americans are becoming more nonwhite and more diverse than ever before. Immigration, coupled with births from recent immigrants and the fact that native-born American minorities have high fertility rates, have contributed to this enormous diversity. In their book A7ne7ican Renaissance, Cetron and Davies (1989) state that the most fundamental change of the 1990s is in who the American people are. The spillover of these population shifts is being acutely felt in the nation's schools and colleges. Correspondingly, the most fundamental change witnessed in the nation's educational system is in who the students are becoming.

Students of color are expected to make up 24 percent of the under-eighteen population by 2012, a 5 percent increase from 1990. By 2010, these students will represent more than half the population eighteen years of age and younger in seven states, including California, Florida, Texas, and New York. States such as Mississippi, New jersey, and Illinois are projected to have a youth population more than 40 percent minority (Carter and Wilson, 1994; Hodgkinson, 1991). Thus, the term minority is losing its statistical meaning, as a new student majority rapidly emerges, comprised collectively of African Americans, Latinos, Asians, American Indians, and Alaska Natives. In twenty-two out of the twenty-five largest urban school districts and in some two and four-year colleges, they are already the majority. While some of these students come from well-to-do families and have attained the American Dream, many are poor and have lost faith in what America has to offer.

This chapter highlights the profiles of peoples who are transforming the United States into a new, multicultural America, reviews the issues that schools and colleges must confront as they reorganize for diversity, and outlines the consequences if our nation's educational system fails a new student majority.

America's Changing Demographic Profile

The American people are now the most diverse ever. Two trends characterize the nation's demographic profile: Americans are getting older and they are becoming more differentiated. As America grays, so does it add color. In 1970, the median age of the American population was less than thirty, but today it is nearing thirty-three, and by the year 2000, it is expected to top thirty-six. However, there is another side to this graying photo of America. New waves of immigrants are flocking to the United States. In the 1980s about twice as many immigrants as in the previous decade migrated into the United States. About 84 percent were from Asia, the Caribbean, and Latin America. Immigrants arrive at the rate of one million a year, and foreign-born residents (legal and illegal) represent 8.5 percent of the U.S. population, nearly twice, the percentage in 1970. Fully 40 percent of recent immigrants settle in California, where 22 percent of the population was born outside the United States (Topolnicki, 1995). Consequently, immigration is becoming one of the most important state and federal policy issues. For example, California's Proposition 187 would restrict education to undocumented students, and educators are concerned that teachers would be forced to become de facto border patrol agents who would turn in students suspected to be illegal aliens.

These new Americans are younger than mainstream white America and have high fertility rates. The same is true for native-born minorities. The birth rate among African Americans is double the national average and for Hispanics it quadruples the national average. Immigration and high birth rates, as well as the movement of Anglos from cities to suburbs, are the main reasons that in 1990 minorities were the majority in 51 of 200 cities with I 00,000 or more residents. Most of the cities where minorities are now the majority are in the South and West. These groups are so diver-se that generic classifications obscure differences in culture, language, country of origin, and traditions. just as the term European would not do justice to Old World immigrants, labels such as Hispanic, Asian, and Af7ican American fail to capture the full diversity within each racial and ethnic group. Indeed, because of this diversity, ethnic and racial minorities often do not act as a group. They remain separated by geographic, location, national origin, immigrant status, and socioeconomic level. Therefore, their political influence is not as clear as what their numbers indicate.

These new people are being met by both those who praise diversity and those who harbor xenophobic views. Nativist, who are partial to native-born people and unaccepting toward immigrants, believe that U.S. immigration procedures are too lax and that immigrants cost more in welfare, health, and educational services than they pay in taxes. Some native-born minorities are concerned that new immigrants could take away the few jobs for which they qualify. Anti-assimilationists argue that diversity is an inherent good, that this country benefits from different communities, and that immigrants constitute a net addition to the country's wealth, given that they come from an environment of poverty and are willing to work hard in a new country. The vast majority of today's immigrants (legal and illegal) are doing well. Those who arrived in the United States before 1980 actually boast higher average household incomes ($40,900) than all native-born Americans (Topolnicki, 1995). The xenophobia of today is reminiscent of what happened in the late eighteenth century, when German immigrants were characterized as unassimilable because of their language and Catholicism. Irish immigrants on the East Coast and Chinese on the West Coast were also greeted with religious and racial prejudice. Still, new people of color, combined with native-born minorities, are altering the nation's ethnic and cultural balance either to the dismay or the enthusiasm of white and nonwhite Americans. The next section highlights the heterogeneous elements of the different groups that are fast becoming new majorities.

African Americans

African Americans, often referred to as blacks, are the largest minority group in the United States, at nearly thirty million people or about 12.1 percent of the population. African Americans are drawn from a diverse range of cultures and countries in Africa, the Caribbean, and Central and South America. Half of all African Americans live in the South, but large proportions now reside in urban areas, especially Detroit, New York, Chicago, and Atlanta. African Americans have suffered a long history of oppression, including racism and poverty. They were unwillingly brought to the New World from Africa only to become oppressed people with no civil rights. Although African Americans now enjoy civil rights won at great cost by black leaders such as Martin Luther King, Jr., and many others, racial unrest still permeates American society. The unlawful beating of African American motorist Rodney King in the streets of Los Angeles and attacks in Bensonhurst and Howard Beach in New York are testimony to the notion that racism has survived the civil rights movement of the 1960s and is still a looming threat to millions of African Americans and other minority groups (Quality Education for Minorities Project, 1990; Quality Education for Minorities Network, 1993).

Alaska Natives American Indian

Alaska Natives constitute about 14 percent of Alaska's population. Together, Alaska Natives and American Indians represent 0.8 percent of the total U.S. population. The heavy in-migration of non-Native groups has reduced the Alaska Native population since 1930, when it accounted for 50 percent of the total. Alaska is home to three distinct Native groups: Eskimos, Aleuts, and American Indians. Alaska Natives are not a monolithic group. There are twenty Alaska Native languages and more than 200 Native villages, with about 60 percent living in the state's rural areas. Alaska Natives have suffered rampant attempts to destroy the Native culture, particularly from Russians and Americans, who have wanted to "civilize" them by moving them away from their basic culture. They have experienced the banning of their languages, games, and dances and have suffered the consequences of having their children removed from families and placed in boarding schools. Nonetheless, Alaska Natives have sought to restore their- villages and control over education (Quality Education for Minorities Project, 1990; Quality Education for Minorities Network, 1993).

American Indians are characterized by diversity, with at least 100 Native languages still spoken today by more than 300 tribes. Still, it is not always easy to determine just who is Indian due to problems in data collection, recording, and processing. Self-reporting in the category of "race" and "ancestry" on the U.S. census form has revealed great discrepancies. Additional complicating factors include whether the tribe is federally recognized, residence, adoption of life-styles, and percentage of Indian blood. In 1990, the largest numbers of Alaska Native/ American Indians were found in Oklahoma, California, Arizona, New Mexico, Alaska, Washington, and North Carolina. American Indians strongly believe in self-determination and tribal sovereignty and enjoy a unique legal status with the federal government. They suffered attempts by the Europeans who colonized this country to assimilate them, eliminate their "barbarian" nature, and turn them into Christians (Quality Education for Minorities Project, 1990; Quality Education for Minorities Network, 1993). American Indians, like Alaska Natives, balk at the notion that the United States is a land of immigrants, for their history is such that they lived in what is now known as America many years before the arrival of Columbus in 1492.


Since the removal of discriminatory immigration policies in 1965, Asians have become one of the nation's fastest-growing minority groups. In 1990, Asian/Pacific Islanders numbered some seven million, or 2.9 percent of the U.S. population. Most of the Asian American population (outside the state of Hawaii) is found in the West, where they represent 1'.7 percent of the area's population. The six largest Asian subgroups are Chinese, 23.8 percent of the Asian-American population; Filipino, 20.4 percent; Southeast Asian (those of Vietnamese, Laotian, Cambodian, or Hmong origin), 14.5 percent; Japanese, 12.2 percent; Asian Indian, 11.8 percent; and Korean, 11.6 percent. In the 1980s, nearly 900,000 refugees arrived from Vietnam, Laos, and Kampuchea (Cambodia) as they fled Southeast Asia for safety and opportunity in America. About 800,000 Hmong tribes people driven from Laos by the Pathet Lao after the United States abandoned its military commitment to Southeast Asia have also settled here. California alone has hosted nearly half a million Vietnamese, to the point that Orange County now has an area called Little Saigon. Other Southeast Asians have settled in Long Beach, Modesto, Stockton, Fresno, and San Francisco (Cetron and Davies, 1989; Quality Education for Minorities Network, 1993).

Asians come from affluent as well as poor socioeconomic backgrounds).Roughly one million are North Koreans who escaped the communists in the 1950s. The Koreans, like the Japanese of previous generations, are the elite of Asia-well educated, entrepreneurial, and wealthy. Their energetic nature has helped them to own 85 percent of the green grocery business in New York City, some 300 grocery stores in Atlanta, most of the liquor and convenience stores in Los Angeles, and a growing number of service businesses in Anchorage. Similarly, the Vietnamese that escaped communist takeover just after the fall of Saigon were the upper tier of South Vietnamese society. Most male adults were college educated and many spoke English fluently, having worked with Americans during the war. They were able to overcome initial problems in America to build a major American success story. The second wave of Vietnamese that followed in the late 1970s-ethnic Chinese expelled by the Communist regime-have also done well (Cetron and Davies, 1989).

More unsettled are the third wave of Vietnamese immigrants, the "boat people" of the 1980s. They are largely illiterate and poor, and many are emotionally troubled due to the oppression they experienced in their homeland and the trauma of escape from their country. Another problem-plagued group that has settled in California is the Khmer of Kampuchea, nearly all of whom are poor, on welfare, and emotionally troubled due to the destruction of their country and loss of their relatives. The Hmong of northern Laos also find life in America a difficult process. They too have suffered at the hands of oppressors. Few can. read and write their own language, but their farming skills have allowed them to carve out their own communities in rural areas of Minnesota, Nebraska, North Carolina, Texas, and Washington (Cetron and Davies, 1989).


Latinos, often referred to as Hispanics, vary greatly in socioeconomic background and cultural traditions. Some, like the first immigrant wave of wealthy Cubans, have found success in America. Other-s, like newly arrived Mexicans, Central and South Americans, and Puerto Ricans, often live below the poverty line. Nonetheless, Latinos are proud of their culture, and many resent the "English Only" movement that they feel would do away with their freedom to express themselves in Spanish, the language that connects the Latino culture. Yet most Latinos recognize the importance of learning English as a means to participate fully in American society.

Immigrants from Mexico continue to arrive in the United States each year, mainly crossing through the porous U.S.-Mexico border that stretches some 2,000 miles from California to Texas. But not all Hispanics are recent immigrants. The Mexican origin population, sometimes referred to as Chicanos, Mexicans, or Mexican Americans, consists partly of individuals who have roots in the United States extending back more than ten generations, even before the establishment of Jamestown. Texas, New Mexico, Arizona, Colorado, and California were once a part of Mexico but had to be given up when U.S. forces overtook Mexican troops in the U.S.-Mexican War. In a historical account of the U.S. Southwest, Gloria Anzaldia (1987, p. 7) points out that "the border fence that divides the Mexican people was born on February 2, 1848 with the signing of the Treaty of Guadalupe-Hidalgo. It left 100,000 Mexican citizens on this side, annexed by conquest along with the land. The land established by the treaty as belonging to Mexicans was soon swindled away from its owners. The treaty was never honored and restitution, to this day, has never been made."

Other Mexican-origin communities are those whose residents applied for legalization (amnesty) under the Immigration Reform and Control Act of 1986 to become permanent U.S. citizens. Today, people of Mexican origin number over thirteen million and constitute 61.2 percent of the persons of Hispanic origin living in the United States. Most live in the Southwest and West, especially in California and Texas (Quality Education for Minorities Network, 1993).

However, other Latino subgroups are growing even faster than those of Mexican origin. These include Central Americans, especially those from El Salvador, who now represent 6 percent of the Latino population in the United States. South Americans and "other" Latinos such as those from the Caribbean have also settled in America. About 300,000 immigrants from the Dominican Republic have settled in New York City. Immigrants from Spain and Portugal have also come to the United States (Quality Education for Minorities Project, 1990; Quality Education for Minorities Network, 1993; Cetron and Davies, 1989).

Another group of Latinos is Puerto Ricans, who are engaged in a circular migration between the island and the mainland. This is because Puerto Ricans are U.S. citizens with strong ties to the island. In constant migration, Puerto Ricans cross cultural boundaries, languages, and school systems. The 2.3 million Puerto Ricans on the mainland account for about 12 percent of Latinos in the United States. High birth rates and continued immigration will ensure that Puerto Ricans represent an increasing share of the American population in the years ahead, not only in New York and New jersey, where they are most heavily concentrated, but in other mid-Atlantic states (Quality Education for Minorities Project, 1990; Quality Education for Minorities Network, 1993).

Among Latinos the ones considered most successful are Cuban Americans, who number over one million and constitute 4.8 percent of the U.S. Latino population. Most have settled in Florida, especially Miami. There have been three waves of Cuban immigrants. The first consisted of well-to-do Cuban families who fled the Castro revolution in the early 1960s. The second arrived in the Mariel boat lift in 1980. While the first wave consisted mainly of the upper crust of Cuban society, the second wave was more diverse. Many were poor and illiterate. Others were well educated, but their economic and social success in Cuba had been quite limited. While the first wave was able to attain success in America, a large proportion of the second remains impoverished (Cetron and Davies, 1989). A third wave arrived in 1994, as Cubans again tried to escape economic hardship and political oppression in makeshift boats.

As a new century dawns, the task of dealing with the explosion of multicultural ism is one of the most critical issues facing the United States. A cultural revolution is slowly reshaping the country, and trends are readily apparent. California is expected to become the first "minority majority" state in the continental United States, and Texas and New Mexico are poised to follow. The University of California at Berkeley's freshman class is now over 50 percent minority. Overall, more than 30 percent of students in public schools-about twelve million and growing-are now minority. In Los Angeles alone, about ninety different languages are spoken. Interracial marriages have tripled. Non-Western religious cultures are also penetrating American society, and Islam is gaining increased popularity.

This country does not appear prepared to cope with the ultimate reality: a new majority and a new minority are rapidly emerging. By the last quarter of the twenty-first century, people who are today considered minorities will be the majority population. And the nation is clearly not ready for mediating the effects of unprecedented diversity in language, culture, religion, and life-style. Tensions between whites and nonwhites appear to be escalating. Hate crimes have increased, resulting not only in civil unrest but in the killings of nonwhites by individuals who preach white supremacy. Equally disturbing is that as resources, jobs, and opportunities for advancement shrink, minority groups begin to confront each other for what little there is. In the Los Angeles riots of 1992, Korean businesses, as well as black and Latino neighborhoods, were hard hit, partly due to intra ethnic tensions and to economic competition among groups and individuals living in resource-poor areas (Pastor, 1993). The challenge for a new American society is as clear as it is complex: how to build communities that respect and value difference, how to foster interracial harmony, and how to connect different groups in an effort to grant them equal access to economic and educational opportunities.

Nowhere in America's infrastructures are these issues becoming more glaring than in the educational system. The school of today is nothing like before. Take Hollywood High, for instance, known for its distinguished alumni, which include some of the nation's foremost entertainers. At this high school some fifty-seven languages are now spoken, and 92 percent of the students count English as their second language. Students go through a daily weapons search, and the school has hired two full-time police officers. Many students are single parents and find they must work part time, leaving them precious little time to attend to their studies. How do children learn and how do faculty teach in a school where there is no common language and no common culture? How do students interact with each other in unsafe schools? What are the consequences to students in schools where everyone appears to be at risk? The next section discusses the issues the nation's K-12 school system and higher education institutions must confront as they attempt to address the needs and strengths of an emerging student majority.

Crisis in the K-12 School System

Poor and minority children are the most underserved in America. They come from the poorest families, have the worst health care, are more likely to be attacked, killed, or shot at as they walk to school, attend the most underfunded schools, and are taught by the least prepared teachers. The New York Times called children who live in bleak worlds "children of the shadows." In a series of articles that attracted national attention, the Times referred to these children as "impoverished youth who live in tumble-down neighborhoods of the American inner city; the children of often desperate and broken families, where meals are sometimes cereal three times a day; the young people who daily face the lures of drugs, sex, fast money and guns; the unpoliced youths who operate in a maddening universe where things always seem to go wrong" (Wilkerson, 1993, p. 1).

While not all minority children live in such dark worlds, more and more are doing so. The proportion of children living in poverty is increasing, school performance is declining, and juvenile crime has exploded and turned more violent. According to a report issued by the Commission on Chapter 1 (1992) that called for fundamental changes in the federal Chapter I program targeted at educationally disadvantaged children, these are the very children that deserve the best the nation's educational system can offer. But as the commission said, "Instead, to those who need the best ... we give the least. The least well trained teachers. The lowest-level curriculum. The oldest books. The least instructional time. Our lowest expectations. Less, indeed, of everything we believe makes a difference" (p. 4).

Overall, children at risk have made some considerable achievement gains over the past twenty-five years. According to the Commission on Chapter 1 (1992), almost all poor and minority children today master rudimentary skills. Between 1972 and 1991, the high school dropout rate for whites decreased from 12.3 percent to 8.9 percent, and the dropout rate for African Americans also declined from 21.3 to 13.6 percent during the same time span. However, the dropout rate for Hispanics increased from 34.3 percent to 35.3 percent (Ramfrez, 1993). Achievement gaps that have long separated poor and minority children from other youngsters in reading, as measured by the National Assessment of Educational Progress, have declined by nearly half, although there are ominous signs that the trend is now reversing. SAT scores have also improved. The largest gain in SAT average score from 1976 to 1993 was for African Americans, a gain of 21 points in the verbal score and 34 points in the math score. Still, gaps between whites and nonwhites remain, with whites scoring higher on the verbal SAT score than all other groups and Asians scoring higher on the math score.

America's schools have largely failed poor and minority youngsters. About fifty years since Mendez v. Westminister School Distinct (I 945), forty-seven years after Delgado v. Bastrop Independent School Dist7ict (1948), and about forty-one years since Brown v. Board of education (1954)-the major cases that declared segregated schools unconstitutional-minority children continue to attend segregated and underfunded schools. According to a report issued by the Quality Education for Minorities Project (1990), minority children attend separate and decidedly unequal schools. These schools operate with outmoded curricula and structures based on the assumption that only a few students will be successful. Further, the problems students face in and out of the classroom, such as racism, poverty, language differences, and cultural barriers, are not addressed in the typical school. Students attend schools where their teachers do not expect them to amount to much. They attend crowded classrooms with fewer resources than predominantly white suburban schools have. Often, their teachers are inexperienced, engage students in mundane tasks such as circling letters on dittos, and fail to challenge children. The predominant mode of instruction is drill and practice. Keeping order in class takes precedence over engaging students in active learning and higher-order thinking skills. It is not surprising that so many of these students leave school before they graduate and that those who persevere often wonder what their education is worth, since they still find themselves unprepared for college or the work world.

Key Educational Issues

Educational reform has become one of the top federal and state policy issues of the day. Congress and the Supreme Court have played a major role in shaping educational policy over the past twenty-five years. Below is a sampling of some of the most critical educational issues related to the education of poor and minority students today.

School Restructuring and S)7stemic Change. The problems of inner-city schools are so perverse that many believe there are only two solutions: radically restructure schools or let schools compete for students in the marketplace of education. Those who believe in school restructuring argue that special "add-on" programs have done little or nothing to help poor and minority youngsters. The Commission on Chapter 1 (1992, p. 7) explains: "No matter how wonderful the staff in special programs or how terrific their materials and equipment, they cannot compensate in 25 minutes per day for the effects of watered-down instruction the rest of the school day and school year. And watered-down instruction is precisely what most poor children get." Instead of special programs that contribute next to nothing to the mainstream academic program, restructuring advocates argue that nothing short of total reform is needed-fundamental changes in traditional school organization, governance, policies, programs, and practices. Restructured schools are those that make fundamental changes in the rules, roles, and relationships in schools. They make student achievement the main criterion against which teachers, principals, and administrators are judged and rewarded. They decentralize decision making and increase the involvement of teachers and principals in policy discussions. They focus on site based management where decisions about how to achieve objectives established by policy makers are made by teachers, principals, parents, child development professionals, and other school and community leaders. Restructured schools are guided by professional standards based on knowledge and skills developed through research and experience (Quality Education for Minorities Project, 1990).

National efforts such as the Ford Foundation's National Center for Urban Partnerships, the National Science Foundation's Urban Systemic Initiative, the U.S. Department of Education's Educational Partnerships Project, as well as the Pew Charitable Trust's Community Compacts Project focus on systemic change. The projects involve entire cities, including schools, community colleges, four-year institutions, business and industry, and community-based organizations,- in an all-out effort to reduce the barriers to academic achievement and progress for at-risk students. Focusing on systemic change from the earliest grades to the baccalaureate degree level, these projects aim at restructuring the entire system by Involving key stakeholders, allowing for shared decision making, encouraging teacher collaboration, fostering site-based management, focusing on student support and development, involving parents, and building in accountability through assessment and evaluation, among other measures. Systemic change is focused on making every school a school of choice. Yet creating systemic change takes time, is often met with resistance, is subject to political maneuvering, and can be costly.

School Choice. Advocates for what has become known as school choice" believe that schools will change only when they know they must compete with each other. The state of Minnesota enacted one of the earliest choice plans in 1985. The plan allowed parents to send their children to any school in the state, so long as the school had room for them. When students moved from one school to another, the state tuition money that paid for their education went with them. The theory behind choice is that schools perceived to offer the best education will flourish, while those perceived to be of lesser quality will lose students and go bankrupt. Consequently, it is to every school's advantage to undertake reform strategies. But critics believe that this allows already good schools to get even better, while underfunded schools could get even worse. The scenario for poor and minority kids might well be that they would be attending even worse schools than before choice plans were enacted.

Standards. Ever since President George Bush convened an Education Summit with the governors of fifty states in 1989, setting national goals and standards has been central to the agenda of educational reform. Those who believe in instituting national content and world-class performance standards, such as those found in Japan and Great Britain, want U.S. students to be competitive. Proponents believe that national standards are needed in math, science, history, the arts, civics, geography, and English to identify what students need to know to live and work in the twenty-first century. President Bush's America 2000 Plan was based on the notion that by the year 2000 all American students would demonstrate competency in challenging subjects. In 1991 Congress established the National Council on Education Standards and Testing, a bipartisan panel that recommended the creation of voluntary national standards and a voluntary national system of student assessment based on world-class standards. Opponents argue that getting universal agreement on what constitutes a basic education is almost impossible. They also charge that standards do little or nothing about the issue of equalizing educational opportunities, such as improving teacher preparation and curricula to ensure that poor and minority students can meet agreed-on standards. Still others argue that setting national standards amounts to little if there is no local discussion about what children should learn, and that setting national standards may lead to a national curriculum and to national testing.

School Finance. Funding inequities have long divided good" and "bad" schools. Reform advocates argue that true educational opportunities for all children can only come through equalized school funding. Disproportionate numbers of poor and minority students attend schools that have few resources, the most crowded classrooms, and the lowest per pupil expenditures. These inequalities perpetuate the economic gap between minority and nonminority families. In 1968 Demetfio Rodriguez and parents of children who attended schools in the Edgewood district in San Antonio, Texas-a district that was poor and 96 percent nonwhite-filed an important school finance case. The Mexican American Legal and Education Defense Fund (MALDEF) represented Rodriguez and argued funding disparities between wealthy and poor school districts. Nqiile the Texas federal district court held that Texas was in violation of the equal protection clause of the U.S. Constitution, the decision was reversed by the Supreme Court in San Antonio Independent School District v. Rodriguez (I973). In the words of Jonathan Kozol, author of Savage Inequalities (I991, p. 229), "Twenty-three years after Dimitri Rodriguez went to court, the children of the poorest people in the state of Texas are still waiting for an equal chance at education." So are the rest of the children attending underfunded inner-city schools throughout America.

Computer-Aided Learning. Teaching children with computers holds the promise for greater gains in student achievement through individualized learning. Yet children who attend poorly funded schools that lack computers and whose families cannot afford computers at home or whose homes are not electronically wired for computers will likely be unable to learn skills needed to gain employment in a technological society.

School-to-Work Transition. Schools of today have allowed students in non-college preparatory programs to flounder by taking a general education course core that does little or nothing to prepare them for the world of work. Many students find high school boring, underachiever and graduate with no preparation for the work world. Consequently, experimental programs such as Boston's Project Pro Tech, funded partly by the U.S. Labor Department, are being created. The Boston project links three high schools with the city's health care industry. The school curriculum for students in this program is developed using rea]4ife applications. Students are involved in youth apprenticeship programs that help them gain employable skills, a work income, and an academic education.

Drug and Sex Education. For many inner-city children, especially "latchkey" children and those who come from broken homes, their role models are dropouts and drug dealers. These kids find it easy to gain acceptance by having children or doing drugs. With the AIDS epidemic looming in schools and with an unprecedented number of children having children, drug education and sex education are becoming integral parts of the school curriculum. But this is not happening without opposition from conservative groups, who argue that these forms of education, as well as condom distribution, actually encourage sexual promiscuity and drug abuse. In 1993, the chancellor of the New York City schools was dismissed in part because of his support for condom distribution and tolerance of homosexuals. These concerns give rise to the following questions: To what extent should schools become social service agencies? To what extent should schools replace the role of parents in instilling values@

School Safety. Minority children are largely attending schools embedded in violent neighborhoods and are becoming victims of attack in school. One in three Latinos, one in five African Americans, and one in eight whites reported that gangs operated in their schools in 1989 (Ramirez, 1993). Inner-city schools face the challenge of creating safe learning environments. Yet these are the very schools that lack the resources to create and maintain campus safety.

Year-Round Schools and Extended School Days. The basic premise of year-round schools and extended school days is that American students have too much time of Japan's school year consists of 240 eight-hour days, While American schools average 180 days of about six and a half hours. Many educators feel the longer hours explain why Japanese schoolchildren score two or three years ahead on standardized achievement tests. In America, many minority educators believe that students should be exposed to academically reinforcing activities such as Saturday academies and after-school and summer programs. More important, the quality of education available to poor and minority youngsters needs great improvement.

Tracking. Considered one of the most pernicious barriers to minority student progress, tracking occurs early on in schooling, when children are classified as advanced, average, or behind. This judgment, often made without formal assessment, can sea] a child's fate for life. "Slow" students almost never catch up, since they are made to engage in mundane activities while advanced students engage in higher order thinking skills. Minority children, as well as those for whom English is a second language, are often misdiagnosed as slow learners or as having. learning disabilities. Yet tracking persists because many teachers are unequipped to develop strategies that help all children achieve and harbor the belief that minority children have low levels of learning ability.

Teacher Preparation. Instead of inner-city schools getting the best-prepared teachers, most get the opposite. Having few resources, poor school districts are unable to attract outstanding teachers, who tend to be lured by wealthier schools paying higher salaries. Consequently, minority children often have the least-qualified and least-experienced teachers. Moreover, teacher preparation programs in colleges and universities have largely been lax in preparing teachers to work with multicultural students in urban settings.

Lack of Minority Teachers. At a time when almost one in three students in America's public schools belongs to a minority group, only 8 percent of teachers are African American, 3 percent are Hispanic, and 1.4 percent are Asian (Ramirez, 1993). The minority student population in schools will exceed 30 percent and approach 50 percent in most urban areas, but minority teachers are expected to decline from the current 10 percent of the teacher workforce to only 5 percent. Fewer than 8 percent of the students in teacher preparation programs are minority, and this pool is likely to shrink if candidates fail to pass teacher competency tests required for licensing in most states (Quality Education for Minorities Project, 1990). What will be the effects on minority children if they are taught by a largely white teacher workforce?

Student Assessment. With the growing trend toward developing performance standards, the issue of assessing student learning is becoming paramount. Yet it is well known that although some minority students do well on standardized tests, many do not. Explanations for this situation include the following: some of these tests incorporate questions that are culturally biased, minority students are likely to attend inferior schools that give them a poor-quality education, and they are less likely to have access to courses and computer software that could help them prepare for standardized tests.

Multicultural Education. With America being a multicultural nation, many educators believe that the curriculum should include multicultural education. Proponents argue that students should be exposed to and helped to understand diverse cultures and ways of knowing in order to help them function in a multicultural society. Opponents believe that multicultural ism focuses too much on difference, and that what students need is a common perspective about American life. Distorted views about multicultural education have led to divisiveness between those who argue for particularistic approaches, where separate courses emphasize each of the primary racial and ethnic groups in America, and those who advocate a pluralistic or infusion approach that calls for all courses to include content that is more representative of the pluralistic nature of this country.

Bilingual Education and English as a Second Language. With such a wide range of languages spoken in some schools today, there has been a dramatic growth in limited-English-proficiency (LEP) students. Between 1979 and 1989, public school enrollment of children who spoke a language other than English at home increased by 41 percent. Bilingual and ESL instruction are considered essential to help students make the successful transition into an English-driven curriculum. Bilingual education, which builds on the students' first language and moves them toward the development of English proficiency, is seen as the vehicle to facilitate this transition. Yet there is a shortage of qualified teachers, counselors, and other school personnel prepared to work with LEP students. Bilingual education also continues to be under attack from some educators, who believe that a common language is needed for national unity and that non-English instruction impedes assimilation. In any case, schools will need to be prepared to provide ESL instruction to the millions of adults who emigrate to this country.

Parental Involvement. Almost all educators believe parental involvement -is essential to student achievement. The problem is that many minority parents do not feel empowered to participate in school functions, especially those who speak little or no English or who have not graduated from high school. Yet there is evidence that minority parents do care about their children getting the best education, and schools need to do a better job of helping parents get involved in school management and academic activities.

Revitalization of Minority Communities. Education is a process that occurs within the context of the total community environment. Yet according to the report issued by the Quality Education for Minorities (QEM) Network in 1993, a significant percentage of the nation's low-income minority population is concentrated in low-income public housing and other impoverished communities. Many of the residents of these communities have been denied a high-quality education. Consequently, these communities are characterized by high rates of joblessness, deteriorating housing conditions, violence and other crime, substance abuse, and a lack of access to adequate health care and social services. Improving schools will resolve only part of the problem. What is needed is the revitalization of minority communities through a comprehensive, coordinated approach that connects the various educational and social services of the community. The Quality Education for Minorities Network initiated pilot sites for campus-based community service centers in six cities that link the resources of participating colleges and universities to the needs of neighboring low-income public housing.

In summary, poor and minority children constitute the nation's most imperiled resource. They deserve the best but are likely to receive the worst. It is no wonder that so many students have lost faith in the American system of education, drop out before high school graduation, and believe that a college education is beyond their reach. Consequently, few minorities are earning college degrees, even though gains have been made during the past ten years. According to Hodgkinson (1991), a large segment of the baby "boomers" that occurred mostly in Florida, Texas, and California faces the prospect of childhood poverty, along with limited educational opportunities. Without support, these children risk school failure and may not guarantee more enrollments for higher education.

The next section examines the issues institutions of higher education must confront as they work with a new student majority.

A New Student Majority in Higher Education

The future of higher education is already here. All that the children of immigrant and native-born Americans have to do is get older, for they constitute the next generation of potential college students. Higher education is not well prepared for this reality. As the pool of potential white college students shrinks, the pool of students of color expands, especially the number of college-age Hispanics. The sharp decrease in the number of college-age youths that began in the mid 1980s continued through 1993. This was due primarily to a continuing decline of whites age eighteen to twenty-four. Interestingly, African Americans also followed this trend, With a college-age population that declined by 9 percent over the same period. Conversely, the number of Hispanics in this age group increased by 37 percent between 1983 and 1993. Nonetheless, college enrollments for African American, Asian, American Indian, and Latino students increased by 57.6 percent from 1983 to 1993. The highest increases were seen for Hispanics, American Indians, and Asian Americans and the smallest for African Americans (Carter and Wilson, 1995).

The share of bachelor's degrees awarded to minority students is another bright spot in higher education. Between 1991 and 1992, the share of bachelor's degrees earned by minorities increased by 11.4 percent. The share of master's degrees earned during that same period increased by 12.4 percent. At the first professional degree level, degrees among students of color rose by 9.5 percent, and increased at the associate degree level by 8.3 percent. In all four degree categories, the increase for students of color was above the progress of white students (Carter and Wilson, 1995).

Yet all is not well in higher education. Educators are concerned that only small numbers of minority high school graduates are choosing to go to college, especially those in inner cities.

Many have lost faith in higher education. Despite enrollment growths during the 1980s, African Americans, Latinos, and American Indians continued to be under represented at many of the nation's two- and four-year colleges and universities. While students of color represented 23 percent of all undergraduate students in 1992, their representation among degree recipients remained far below their share of undergraduate enrollments (Carter and Wilson, 1995). Despite the concentration of minorities in community colleges, few complete the transfer process to four-year institutions where they can pursue bachelor's and graduate degrees. College entrance exams are still being used as the sole criterion or the most important criterion to determine college admission by many college and university programs, thereby excluding many talented minorities who have the potential to succeed in college. The under representation of minority students in fields requiring a math and science background persists. And evolving financial aid policy threatens access, since most minority students simply find it difficult to sustain their families and still have enough financial resources to attend college.

In addition, students of color are likely to be the victims of racist attitudes and behaviors on many predominantly white college campuses. Tensions on college campuses today mirror those in the larger society. Growing student diversity and intense competition for student aid and admissions have fueled many of these tensions. Intergroup hostility has occurred when minorities have called for the establishment of separate dormitories and cultural centers, and when administrators have been thought to overreact to the demands of minority students on campus. Some students have used acute measures to press college administrators to respond to their demands. To cite but two out of many examples, in 1993 Chicano students effectively used a fasting strategy and not-so-peaceful demonstrations to pressure the University of California at Los Angeles to create the Cesar Chavez Center for Interdisciplinary Instruction in Chicana and Chicano Studies. In 1992, African American students staged two days of sit-in demonstrations at Georgia State University to protest a climate of racial tension and to lobby for an African American Studies department, which they ultimately got.

Key Educational Issues in Higher Education

As higher education prepares to educate a new student majority, it will find that it must confront issues such as those sketched in the following paragraphs.

Curriculum Transformation. The influx of faculty and students of color is having an impact on the curriculum in higher education. Minorities and women are demanding a more inclusive curriculum that integrates issues of gender, race and ethnicity, class, sexuality, and culture. But moving away from the traditional canon has created great controversy, as some argue that ethnic and women's studies are uprooting the classic Eurocentric curriculum that predominates in the academy. Moreover, as gays and lesbians seek to augment the curriculum with gay studies, many minorities feel that ethnic studies will suffer since limited resources are available to support different study emphases.

Higher Education Finance. Today, almost every state in the union has some form of funding crisis. As a result, cutbacks in state funding have impacted faculty salaries, student fees, and enrollments, as well as programs and services for students. The impact on access to college for students of color can be felt in admissions (as colleges decide they can only enroll just so many students), financial aid, and student services. Lack of funding also affects minority faculty recruitment at a time when more faculty of color are needed to work with college students.

An important higher education finance case in Texas highlighted inequities in educational opportunities for minorities. In LULACV. Richards (1992), a group of Mexican American plaintiffs, represented by MALDEF, which had argued the San Antonio Independent School Distinct v. Rodriguez (I 973) school finance case, charged that the Texas higher education system was unconstitutional and unenforceable. MALDEF pointed out that few resources-in terms of both funding and academic programs, especially graduate programs-were being afforded to students who resided along the Texas-Mexico border, which is about two-thirds Mexican American and the poorest area in Texas. Engineer), 1992, State District judge Benjamin Euresti Jr., ruled that the Texas higher education system discriminated against Hispanic citizens. The court ruled that the Texas higher education system was unconstitutional and unenforceable because it did not provide Hispanic citizens equal rights and equal opportunity under the law. As a result, the state of Texas moved toward correcting inequities in funding formulas and ensuring equal treatment for six four-year colleges and universities in south Texas. Nonetheless, the Texas Supreme Court later ruled that the disparities in the state's higher education institutions between border and non-border schools were not the result of intentional discrimination against Mexican Americas. MALDEF continued litigation in phase two of the lawsuit, which alleged that the state discriminated against Mexican Americans and African Americans throughout the state in the areas of admissions, recruitment and retention, scholarships, and the use of standardized testing (Rodriguez, 1993).

Student aid. Access to college for minorities is linked to financial aid. Under the Bush administration, minority scholarships were attacked as discriminatory because they were thought to make less money available to white students. While President Clinton's administration appeared to have saved minority scholarships, in 1994 race-based scholarships were once again struck down. A federal court ruled that the University of Maryland could not award race-based scholarships, invalidating the university's Benjamin Banneker Scholarship Program for outstanding African American Students.

Faculty Diversification. Few minority faculty are available to work with students in higher education. In the fall of 1987, black faculty constituted 3.2 percent of the total faculty in higher education, Latinos represented 2.4 percent, Asians, 3.9 percent, and American Indians, 0.8 percent (Quality Education for Minorities Network, 1993). However, affirmative action efforts have come under attack from those who believe that they engender reverse racism and promote the hiring of unqualified persons simply to fill a quota. Nonetheless, minority faculty object to what they often feel are racist institutional environments that devalue their research interests, expect them to be "superstars," relegate them to the bottom tier of the professorate, and expect them to fulfill their scholarly demands while working extensively with students and their communities, something white male faculty members are rarely expected to do.

Transfer Rates from Two- to Four-Year Colleges. While minority students, especially Latinos and American Indians, are disproportionately enrolled in two-year colleges, the minority rate of transfer is so low that many question the viability of two-year colleges as conduits toward the baccalaureate. There is also concern that admission shift from college preparatory to vocational education may steer minorities away from careers that ensure long-term prosperity and upward mobility.

Admissions Standards. College admissions policies have been at the center of controversy since the Supreme Court considered the merits of Affirmative Action in Regents of the University of California v. Bakke (I 978). In the Bakke decision, a five-to-four majority agreed that Bakke, a white medical student applicant to the University of California at Davis, had been wrongly excluded due to the university's affirmative action policy. However, the Court affirmed that race and gender could be taken into account when considering an applicant's qualifications in order to bring diversity and racial parity to American higher education. Critics have charged that colleges and universities have gone too far in overlooking deficiencies when making admissions decisions involving minorities and that preferential treatment implies quotas. Consequently, these institutions struggle with providing access and educational opportunities to under represented groups, while trying to avoid reverse discrimination.

Education Collaborative. Both research and practice efforts over the past twenty years have concluded that one sector, working alone, is insufficient to address the multitude of issues that plague poor and minority students. Postsecondary educators are beginning to realize that education is a continuous pathway, where every tier has some connection to the other. Consequently, partnerships involving corporations, foundations, churches, law enforcement and social service agencies, and schools and higher education institutions are being formed to link business and industry with educational institutions as well as with the community, in an effort to create an integrated system of education that works for all students.

Diversification of Instructional Strategies. Educating a new student majority requires rethinking the way instruction is delivered. College classes tend to be competitive as opposed to collaborative in nature, and faculty tend to use lecture as opposed to active learning techniques. However, the most used practices may have a detrimental effect on students with divergent ways of learning. While more research is needed to assess how students of color learn best, active learning strategies and group activities such as collaborative learning and learning communities are having a positive impact on students of color (Tinto, 1994).

Campus Climate. Many minority students at predominantly white colleges encounter a hostile campus climate. The number of racial incidents has increased, and many minorities find themselves the victims of hateful acts such as caricatures, jokes, and stereotyping by both students and faculty. American Indians have responded to culturally insensitive college mascots, logos, and chants at athletic events. According to the National Institute Against Prejudice and Violence, which has been monitoring acts of hostility against minorities on college campuses, up to 25 percent of minority students on campus now experience slurs, harassment, or assaults each year. That calculation does not include acts of group defamation such as graffiti or the burning of crosses. Nor does it count hostile acts against gays and lesbians or gender violence (Winbush, 1992). Some universities have responded by creating codes of speech and conduct. However, student speech and conduct codes are coming under fire from groups who argue that they infringe on First Amendment rights. While pressure has been placed on institutions to set up appropriate policies, practices, and organizational structures that are sensitive and supportive toward increased participation and achievement of people of color, resentment and resistance may harden as more and more minorities enroll in predominantly white colleges.

Graduate Opportunities. Despite modest gains in the 1980s, a shortage of minorities earning master's and doctoral degrees remains. Minority educators are calling on graduate schools to affirm their commitment to diversity by designing a plan of action to improve the representation of minorities in graduate and professional schools. In 1986-87, minority students represented about 11.5 percent of the graduate enrollment, yet earned only 10.4 percent of the master's degrees and 8.8 percent of the doctorates. In fact, nonresidents earned more doctorates (19.4 percent) than all minority students combined (Quality Education for Minorities Project, 1990).

Desegregation. Although the Supreme Court declared racial segregation at the college level unconstitutional at the same time it decided Brown v. Board of education in 1954, policies such as admissions requirements and hiring practices could still foster segregation. In the June 26, 1992, U.S. v. Fordice decision involving higher education systems in the South, the Supreme Court ruled that states should eliminate policies that foster segregation. The case is crucial given that some eighteen years ago a group of black plaintiffs sued the state of Mississippi for operating one system of universities for whites and a less desirable one for blacks. The Supreme Court ordered the district court to review all policies that "substantially restrict a person's choice of which institution to enter" and that "contribute to the racial identifiability" of the state's colleges and universities. The district court was also ordered to remove unjustifiable policies. The policies under review included admissions standards for historically white and historically black institutions, duplication of non-essential or non-core" programs between historically white and historically black institutions, and even whether "retention of all eight institutions itself affects student choice and perpetuates the segregated higher education system," and if so, whether one or more should be closed or merged. The Fordz'ce decision is bound to have a mayor impact on the survival of historically black institutions, as well as on admissions, curricular, faculty hiring, and financial resource policies in institutions of higher education (Division of Governmental Relations, 1993).

In summary, higher education is not immune to the issues surrounding ethnic and racial minorities. Nor does it operate in a vacuum. Increasingly, what happens in schools Ail] touch every facet of higher education. Society charges two- and four-year Colleges with a key responsibility: educating and training the next generation of leaders so that they can sustain the nation's world eminence, as well as its economic, technological, and scientific competitiveness. The consequences of failing to meet this imperative are enormous, both for students and for the nation as a whole. The concluding section underscores why schools and colleges must not fail an emerging student majority.


In the past, issues involving minority students were considered unique to only a small group and were ignored in favor of the concerns of the white students making up the majority of the student population. However, it is now clear that this nation can no longer discuss educational reform without considering the issues that surround ethnic and racial minorities. A group that by the year 2000 will account for 60 percent of total population growth and that currently is or will be the majority population in many urban cities and some states cannot be ignored or treated as unimportant. To continue to neglect the issues pertaining to this emerging student majority is to ignore the demographic reality that confronts this country. Ethnic and racial minorities are America's future. America cannot succeed without them. The education of racial and ethnic minorities constitutes an investment in building capital that will be necessary to sustain the nation's economic strength. Take health and pension requirements, for instance. As the baby boom generation starts reaching retirement age in the year 2010, resources derived from a younger workforce will be needed to sustain costs of health care and social security benefits (Quality Education for Minorities Project, 1990).

A quality workforce demands a highly trained citizenry. Minorities, white women, and immigrants, will constitute over 90 percent of the net growth of the nation's workforce in the near future. In fact, it is expected that white males will constitute less than 10 percent of the net growth of the workforce between now and the year 2000. Consequently, developing the talents of this new, emerging workforce necessitates a high-quality educational system.

Work requirements are also changing as higher levels of skill are needed to remain competitive in the world economy. A high school diploma is no longer the ticket to the future. The real ticket is having the highest level of education possible as well as the specific skills required by a changing society. According to the Hudson Institute's 1987 publication Workforce 2000, between now and the year 2000, for the first time in history, a majority of all new jobs will require some form of postsecondary education Johnston and Arnold, 1987). Consequently, minorities cannot afford to end their education in high school. They must continue to further their education in two- and four-year colleges. The pay-off for advanced education is clear. In 1990, persons with a bachelor's degree earned an average of $2,116 per month, twice as much as high school graduates ($1,077) and four times as much as high school graduates ($492). Clearly, the education of minorities is synonymous with the success of America. But America cannot succeed if the door to educational opportunities is shut for all but a few students. Nor can it succeed if it wastes the talents of new Americans. This nation has made significant strides in granting civil rights, allowing for equal protection, desegregating schools, and making financial aid available to needy students. But all these strides are now in jeopardy. The chances of minorities getting an equal chance to succeed become nil as civil unrest escalates and minorities continue to attend poorly funded segregated schools. Other threats to parity are budget cutbacks resulting in tuition increases that restrict college enrollment, as well as uncertainties about the future of financial aid and affirmative action.

To fail this imperiled generation is to allow America to continue to become a divided society along the lines of race, ethnicity, and socioeconomic status. If Americans fail to understand that all of us face a common destiny dictated by whether one or more groups fails or succeeds, this nation will become fragmented and weak. Yet if Americans learn to harness as well as develop the strengths of all citizens and incorporate them into our economy, this nation will prosper. The American vision for the future must allow ethnic and racial minorities to have equal access to economic and educational opportunities. This will require putting an end to the educational neglect of children at risk and keeping the door of opportunity open in higher education so that these students have the tools necessary to be fully functioning citizens who contribute to the success of our society. It will require the coordination of federal, state, and local resources to families and children. And it will require the end of educating poor and minority students in "bits and pieces," resulting in piecemeal delivery of services. Instead, a highly coordinated, system wide effort that involves the K-12 school system, two- and four-year colleges, business and industry, community-based organizations, religious organizations, and law enforcement and social service agencies, among others, will be needed to truly make a dent in a disjointed educational system that has for so long been fraught with neglect.

In short, the education of an emerging student minority is inextricably tied to the future of this nation. We can view the challenge before this nation as an economic or a moral one. But whether we believe that bargain-basement schools will produce a dime store economy or that the education of ethnic and racial minorities is a moral responsibility, the consequences of failing to meet this challenge are readily apparent. This country simply cannot afford the consequences of neglect, nor can it ignore the fact that within a relatively short period, people of color will constitute the nation's greatest resource. In the end the choice is clear: America can be resource rich or resource poor. The victims of neglect call yet again for America's response.



Equality of educational opportunity means that everyone has an equal chance to receive an education. When defined as an equal chance to attend publicly supported schools, equal educational opportunity is primarily a legal issue. In this context, the provision of equal educational opportunity can be defined solely on the grounds of justice: If government provides a service like education, all classes of citizens should have equal access to that service.

Still, legal equality of opportunity to attend public schools does not guarantee an equal education. Public schools can be structured to deny equal educational opportunity. This is illustrated by events in Selma, Alabama, in the early 1990s. During the 1950s and 1960s, Selma was a center of violent civil rights protests demanding equal voting rights and integrated education. As a result, by the time of the school protests of 1990, legislation guaranteed African-American children equal educational opportunity to attend publicly supported schools. However, this right of attendance was undermined by a system of tracking students into different curricula. The dispute in 1990 centered on the racial distribution in advanced placement and college preparatory courses offered in Selma's public high school.

Selma, like many other communities in the South, separates races within the public schools by placing them in different curriculum tracks, such as college preparatory and advanced placement. The racial bias underlying the placement of students in such tracks is evident in Selma's high school. In Selma 90 % of all white students were placed in college preparatory and advanced-placement tracks, while only 3 % of all African-American students were placed in those tracks. According to Phyllis McClure, an education specialist with the legal Defense and Education Fund of the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People (NAACP), this form of racial segregation through tracking is common throughout southern states.

When Dr. Norward Roussell, Selma's first African-American school superintendent, tried to correct this racial imbalance by increasing the %age of African-American students in college preparatory and advanced-placement tracks to 10 %, he was notified by the white-dominated school board that he was being dismissed. Dr. Roussell stated that the school system was violating students' rights by tracking them primarily based on teachers' recommendations. "Of course, as you might imagine, most of the students in the bottom levels were black," he said in an interview in the February 21, 1990, issue of Education Week, "although many had standardized-test scores as high as or higher than those in the upper level." It required a school boycott by African-American students before he was reinstated. White parents reacted with threats to remove their children from the public schools and send them to private institutions.

Therefore, equality of educational opportunity requires more than just an equal chance to attend a publicly supported school. It also requires equal treatment within schools. Inequality of treatment in school can be a result of other factors as well. For many years handicapped students were denied equal access to an education because of the lack of provisions to fit their special needs. Entry into buildings and movement between floors were difficult for many handicapped students because they could not negotiate stairs, and neither ramps for wheelchairs nor elevators were provided. Equal educational opportunity for handicapped people has meant making physical changes in buildings.

Besides providing equal treatment in placement in curricular tracks and physical access to buildings, equality of educational opportunity requires positive recognition of the gender, race, and ethnic background of the student. Equality of educational opportunity has little meaning if students gain equal access to an education and then are taught they are inferior.

Inequality of treatment can occur in very subtle ways. This is particularly evident in the history of discrimination against women in education. For instance, while doing research on the history of education during World War 11, Felecia Briscoe encountered a reproduction of a poster of which the National Education Association had distributed 50,000 copies in 1944 as part of its "teacher recruiting and morale-building campaign." Titled "The Teacher, " the poster depicts a female teacher and an elementary-school-age boy and girl standing around a world globe. The little girl is wearing a neat dress and her hair is perfectly groomed. She is staring passively at the globe with a blank expression on her face, and her empty arms dangle beside her. The teacher is seated between the two children. Her head is turned away from the girl and she gazes with approval at the boy. The boy clutches a book in one hand and points to a place on the globe with the other. Unlike the girl, his hair is rumpled and his face is animated. The poster clearly conveys an impression that males are active learners and intellectually superior to females, whereas girls are passive and intellectually dull.

Equality of educational opportunity can be denied also to children from homes where English is not the spoken language, when no special provision for this language problem is made by the schools. Courts have ruled that children who do not fully comprehend the language of the school are being denied equal access to instruction. Equality of educational opportunity in this situation means that the schools must provide special help for children with non-English-speaking back-grounds.

In summary, the idea of equal educational opportunity covers a broad spectrum of educational issues including an equal chance to attend public supported schools, educational practices within schools, the content of the curriculum and textbooks, and recognition of the cultural and language background of the student. All of these issues are highlighted by the long history of racism in public schooling. Traditionally, racism played a major role in the denial of an equal chance to attend public school for African-Americans, Native Americans, Mexican-Americans, and Asians. Today, problems of racism still affect efforts to provide equal educational opportunity. However, issues of race are entangled with issues of social class.


Does race or social class determine equal educational opportunity? Take the case of African-American Professor Cornell West. While a professor of theology at Princeton University, West, after lecturing on Plato's Republic, drove into New York City for a photo session for his new book. Driving, as he described it, an expensive car and planning to have dinner at an expensive restaurant, West felt the burden of the race line when stepping onto the streets of Manhattan. After parking his car, West tried to hail a taxicab to take him to the photo session. In a simmering rage, West watched taxi after taxi stop for white people while ignoring him. After an hour, a cab finally stopped for him. A similar experience occurred to David Dinkins, the former mayor of New York City. The first black mayor of the city watched as taxis responded to whites while ignoring him. Even the former leader of the city could not escape its racist temperament.

No matter how high a person's status or income, racism is still a problem. However, social class remains important. Opportunities are quite different for an African-American growing up in an upper-class household as compared with an African-American or white child growing up in poverty. Social class lines are as sharply drawn in the black community as they are in the white community. Therefore, it is important to consider social class as it intersects with race. White poverty is as detrimental to life chances as black poverty. Wealth is as disproportionately distributed in the African-American and Hispanic communities as in the white community. The upper class in the white community commands about the same %age (49.1) of total white income as the upper class of the African-American and Hispanic communities, 48.7 % and 49.5 %, respectively. Indeed, the lower class of each racial grouping shares similar small %ages of the total income of their race white, 3.8 %; African-American, 3.2 %; Hispanic, 3.6 %.

Although social class is highlighted by the income distribution within each racial group, race is still a factor in the overall distribution of income in the United States. Racial differences, according to household median income, white household incomes and per capita incomes are significantly above those of African-Americans $ 38,972 as compared to Hispanics ($26,626).

Race is also reflected in poverty rates. However, it is again important to remember that social class remains a factor within each racial group. The number of whites living in poverty is much larger than the combined numbers of African-Americans and Hispanics living in Poverty (24.4 million whites compared with a combined total of 17-4 million cans and Hispanics). On the other hand for African-Americans, the actual %ages of African-American (26.5%) and Hispanics (27%) is more than double that of whites social class .

Therefore, both race and social class must be considered in the provision of equal opportunity. An African-American child living in an upper-class family will probably have greater educational opportunities than a white child living in poverty. On the other hand, an African-American child might feel the disadvantage of race regarding educational opportunities in comparison to a white child from the same social class. In addition, the African-American child has a greater probability of being born into poverty than a white child.


What is the economic value of being white instead of African American? Andrew Hacker, along with his white students, determined that being white was worth a million dollars a year. In Two Nations: Black and White: Separate, Hostile, Unequal, Hacker describes presenting his students with a fictional account of a white person being visited

So the economic value of being white, could range from 20 to 23 % when comparing educational attainment. on the average, black men earned 21.8 % less than white men when they had the same level of education. For instance, an African-American without a high school education earned on the average 20.3 % less than a white man without a high school education. An African-American male with more than five years of college earned 22.9%less than a white man with a similar education.


Racism means prejudice plus power. The preceding differences in income based on educational attainment highlight this definition of racism. Racism refers to acts of oppression of one racial group toward another. One form of oppression is economic exploitation.

This definition of racism distinguishes between simple feelings of hostility and prejudice toward another racial group and the ability to turn those feelings into some form of oppression. For instance, black people might have prejudicial feelings toward white people, but they have little opportunity to express those prejudicial feelings in form of economic or political oppression of people. On the other hand, prejudicial feelings that white people might have towards blacks can turn into racism when they b for discrimination in education, housing, and the job market. Within this framework, racism be comes the act of social, political, and economic oppression of another group.

When discussions Of racism occur in my multicultural education classes, white students complain of a sense of hostility from black students and, consequently, accuse black students of racism. Black students respond that their feelings represent prejudice and not racism because they lack power to discriminate against whites. the

troubling aspect of this response is the implication that if these black students had the power, they would be racist. One black student pointed out that there are situations where blacks can commit racist acts against whites. The black student used the example of the killings of white passengers by a black man on a commuter railroad several years ago. The evidence seemed to indicate that the killer was motivated by extreme hatred of whites that the newspapers labeled "black rage." This was a racist act, the black student argued, because the gun represented power.

Racism is often thought of as "whites" oppressing "people of color." of course, there are many problems with this definition. if one parent is black and another white, are their children considered black or white? Can one white-skinned child of this marriage be considered white while one dark-skinned child is considered black? Jake Lamar recalls how the confusion over skin color sparked the development of his racial consciousness at the age of 3. Jake was sitting at the kitchen table when his Uncle Frank commented "about how obnoxious white people were." Jake responded, "But Monuny's white." His uncle replied that his mother was not white but was "just light-skinned." Jake then said that he thought was father, brother, and himself were black while his sister and mother were white. His mother then explained that they had many white ancestors that caused the variation in skin color, but they were still "all Negroes." Thinking back on this incident, Jake Lamar reflected, "Black and white then meant something beyond pigmentation . . . so my first encounter with racial awareness was at once enlightening and confusing, and shot through with ambiguity."

But what do these racial classifications mean? Many residents of the United States have a mixed racial ancestry. For instance, how do you classify a person with ancestors who were European, African, and Native American? How do you classify an immigrant from Mexico whose parents are Native American? Most immigrants from Central and South American are descents from Europeans, Africans, and Native Americans. One woman (rom Central America) in my class had an Asian father and a Mayan Indian mother. Is she Hispanic, Asian or Native American? A resolution is to create a separate category called multiracial. Many U.S. citizens who now identify themselves as whites Native American ancestors. should they continue to be classified as white or should they be considered multiracial?

With the problem of racial classification in mind, you should consider the differences in drop out rates. The high drop rate of 18.2%among Native Americans reflects a historical pattern where native Americans identify school as the institution of the conqueror. Are the high drop out rates, in comparison with whiles (4.3%), of Hispanics (10.9%) and Black (7.6%) a reflection of institutional racism? The high drop out rate of 10.9%for students from families living below the poverty line suggests that poverty is a factor. Is poverty a more important factor than race? Interestingly, the type of family structure has little relationship to dropping out.

Keeping in mind classification and the importance of social class, certain generalities can be made about the racial attitudes of whites at the end of the twentieth century. in Prejudice and Racism, social Psychologist James Jones summarizes the racial attitudes of some whites.

* Whites feel more negatively toward blacks than Hispanics, Asians, and legal and illegal immigrants.

* Whites perceive blacks as lazy, violent, and less intelligent than Hispanics, Asians, and legal and illegal immigrants.

* Whites believe blacks are receiving more attention from government than they deserve.

* Whites believe blacks are too demanding in their struggle for equal rights.

* High levels of antiblack racism are correlated with white attitudes that police and the death penalty make streets safe, and with opposition to assistance to * Anti-Black and anti-Hispanic racism correlated with whites' opposition to open immigration and multilingualism.


The changing complexion of the U.S. population highlights the importance of overcoming racism and prejudice in providing equal educational opportunity. White-antiblack racism has traditionally been the focus of concern. However, with Native American and Mexican-American activism, and immigration, other forms of prejudice and racism play a role in providing equal educational opportunity. Some African-Americans have hostile attitudes toward immigrants as they compete for jobs. Some Asian immigrant arrive with racist feelings about African-Americans. Native Americans are demanding restoration of traditional rights and lands. All of these factors complicate efforts at providing equal educational opportunity.

In 1998, the changing racial/ethnic composition of the U.S. population and resulting educational issues were understood by the Advisory Board for the President's Initiative on Race in One America in the 215' Century: Forging a New Future. The Advisory Board's report presented the following projections and facts:

* By the year 2050, about 50 % of the U.S. population will be composed of Asians, non-Hispanic blacks, Hispanics, and American Indians

* By the year 2005, Hispanics, who may be the largest of any race, are projected to be the largest minority group in the U.S.

* As of 1997, 61 %of the Asian population and 38 %of the Hispanic population were foreign-born. In contrast, only 8 %of whites, 6 %of blacks, and 6 %of American Indians were foreign born.

Educational issues regarding this changing population are directly related to residential patterns and educational attainment of immigrants. Of fundamental importance for the future funding of public schools and the provision of equal educational opportunity is the fact that most African-Americans, Asians, and Hispanics are living in central cities. According to the Advisory Board for the President's Initiative on Race:

Blacks, Asians, and Hispanics are more likely to live in central cities of metropolitan areas than are non-Hispanic whites or American Indians.

A large %age of non-Hispanic whites and Asians live in suburbs. The fraction living in suburbs has increased since 1970.

In addition, immigrant populations bring with them a variety of educational backgrounds. The Advisory Board emphasized the following:

* On the average, Asian immigrants are highly educated and have high incomes.

* Hispanic immigrants, along with immigrants from some Asian countries, have relatively low average levels of educational attainment and income.

Overall, the picture presented by the Advisory Board is a growing gap between the educational advantages of the suburbs and the educational problems of the central cities with changes in the population. These problems are related to the intersection of social class and race.


The Advisory Board for the President's Initiative on Race recognized that the problem of equal educational opportunity involves the intersection of poverty and race. Wealthy African-Americans, whites, Asians, and Hispanics can choose to live in school districts with adequate and exceptional public schools. In the words of the Advisory Board, "Our concern is that educational opportunities and public services are being restricted to those who live disproportionately in areas of concentrated poverty." The Advisory Board identified the following conditions in areas of concentrated poverty:

Schools with low expectations and standards

Substandard and crumbling school facilities

Inadequate public transportation

Poorly financed social services

In addition, the Advisory Board found that students from low-income families were less likely to have access to such educational opportunities and resources as:

Preschool programs

High-quality teachers

Challenging curriculums

High standards

Up-to-date technology

Modern facilities

In the context of the changing U.S. population and existing educational problems, the Advisory Board recommended the following to achieve equal educational opportunity:


I . Enhance early childhood learning. Data indicate that racial disparities persist in terms of early childhood learning. For example, 1996 data show that 89 % of white children ages 3 to 5 were read to three or more times per week compared with 74 % of black children and 62 % of Hispanic children ... efforts could include providing training and services for parents ... and expanding support for such programs as Head Start, Early Head Start, ,ind Even Start.

2. Strengthen teacher preparation and equity. High-quality teachers are too scarce a resource, especially in high-poverty, multilingual-minority communities . . . [action] could include creating incentives to both attract top students to teaching and encourage certified teachers to teach in under-served communities.

3. Promote school construction. It is estimated that building and renovating our public schools to adequately serve all students will cost more than $ 1 00 billion.

4. Promote movement from K-12 to higher education. Efforts must be taken to ensure equal opportunity in higher education and to strengthen the pipeline from K-12 through higher education. Such efforts should include support for partnerships between colleges and K-12 schools that increase expectations by exposing students to future educational opportunities . . .efforts could include increasing the availability of advanced-placement courses in high poverty, High-minority school districts and providing financial support, such as loans or grants, for college test preparation courses.

5. Promote the benefits of diversity in K-12 and higher education. Diversity can promote many benefits that accrue to all students and society, including: improve teaching and learning by providing a range of perspectives that enrich the learning environment; strengthen students' critical-thinking skills by challenging their existing perspectives improve students' preparation for employment . . . and foster the advancement of knowledge by spurring study in new areas of concern.

6. Provide education and skills training to overcome increasing income inequality that negatively affects lower-skilled and less-educated immigrants. The high rates of Hispanic high school dropouts suggest . . . there is a clear need for continued English-language training to ensure that limited-English-proficient students can perform and compete in the educational system.

7. Implement the comprehensive American Indian and Alaska Native education policy. To meet the particular needs of American Indian and Alaska Native students, we urge . . . improving and expanding educational opportunities.

In summary, the recommendations for equality of educational opportunity include early childhood education, high-quality teachers in schools serving low-income families, school construction, equal access to higher education, diversity in the classroom, and adequate English instruction for children from non-English-speaking homes.


The Advisory Board for the President's Initiative on Race was primarily concerned about the intersection of poverty and racial differences. It did not deal directly with the role that schools can play in reducing racism through classroom instruction. A variety of approaches to teaching about racism are available. One excellent book is Beverly Tatum's Why Are All the Black Kids Sitting Together in the Cafeteria?- A Psychologist Explains the Development of Racial Identity. As Tatum points out, discussions of race often make white students feel guilty and their guilt can quickly turn into hostility and resentment. Educator and African-American activist Beverly Tatum worries about the loss of white allies in the struggle against racism and the hostility she feels from -white college students when teaching about racism. Reflecting on her teaching experiences, she writes, "White students . . . often struggle with strong feelings of guilt when they become aware of the pervasiveness of racism. . . . These feelings are uncomfortable and can lead white students to resist learning about race and racism." Part of the problem, she argues, is that seeing oneself as the oppressor creates a negative self-image, which results in a withdrawal from a discussion of the problem. What needs to be done, she maintains, is to counter the guilt by giving white students a positive self-image of whites fighting against racism. In other words, a self-image of whites being allies with blacks in the struggle against racism.

A popular anti-racist curricula for preschool children is the National Association for the Education of Young Children's Anti-Bias Curriculum: Tools for Empowering Young Children. This curriculum and related methods of instruction are designed to reduce prejudice among young children regarding race, language, gender, and physical ability differences. The premise of the method is that at an early age children become aware of the connection between power and skin color, language, and physical disabilities. Cited as examples are a 2 1/2-year-old Asian child who refuses to hold the hand of a black classmate because "It's dirty" and a 4-year-old boy who takes over the driving of a pretended bus because "Girls can't be bus drivers."

According to the Anti-Bias Curriculum, research findings show that young children classify differences between people and they are influenced by bias toward others. By the age of 2, children are aware of gender differences and begin to apply color names to skin colors. Between ages 3 and 5, children try to figure out who they are by examining the differences in gender and skin color. By 4 or 5 years old, children engage in socially determined gender roles and they give racial reasons for the selection of friends. Based on these research findings, the advocates of the curriculum believe that prejudice can be reduced if there is conscious intervention to curb the development of biased concepts and activities.

Another anti-racist education program is the Teaching Tolerance Project that began. after a group of teenage skinheads attacked and beat to death an Ethiopian man on a street in Portland, Oregon, in 1988. After this incident, members of the Southern Poverty Law Center decided it was time to do something about teaching tolerance. Dedicated to pursuing legal issues involving racial incidents and denial of civil rights, the Law Center sued, for the man's family, the two men who were responsible for teaching violent racism to the Portland skinheads. These two teachers, Tom Metzger, the head of the White Aryan Resistance, and his son, became symbols of racist teachings in the United States. In a broad sense, the Teaching Tolerance Project is designed to provide information about teaching methods and materials that will counter the type of racist teachings represented by Metzger and his son.

Similar to the Anti-Bias Curriculum, the Teaching Tolerance Project primarily defines racism as a function of psychological attitudes, in contrast to an emphasis on racism as a function of economic exploitation. On the inside cover of its magazine, Teaching Tolerance, tolerance is defined as "the capacity for or the practice of recognizing and respecting the beliefs or practices of others." Within the context of this definition, the project members "primarily celebrate and recognize the beliefs and practices of racial and ethnic groups such as African-Americans, Latinos, and Asian-Americans."

The primary purpose of the Teaching Tolerance Project is to provide resources and materials to schools to promote "interracial and intercultural understanding between whites and nonwhites' Although this is the primary focus of the project, there have been decisions to include material dealing with cultural tolerance, homelessness, and poverty. The Teaching Tolerance Project is only one of many educational attempts to end racism in the United States. The end of racism is essential for the full provision of equality of opportunity and equality of educational opportunity in U.S. society.


There are legal justifications for the demand that schools provide equal educational opportunity. The historic case is the 1954 Supreme Court school desegregation case, Brown Vs. Board of Education of Topeka, which gave legal meaning to the idea that segregated education means unequal education. Until 1954, segregated schools in the U.S. operated under a ruling given by the Supreme court in 1895, Plessy V. Ferguson, that segregation did not create a badge of inferiority if segregated facilities were equal and the law was reasonable. The decision in both cases centered around the meaning of the Fourteenth Amendment to the Constitution. This amendment was ratified in is68, shortly after the close of the Civil war. one of its purposes was to extend the basic guarantees of the B ill of Rights into the areas of state and local government. The most important, and controversy, section of the Fourteenth Amendment states: "No State shall make or enforce any law which shall abridge the privileges or minorities of citizens . . . nor . . . deprive any person of life, liberty, or property, without due process of law; nor deny to any person within its jurisdiction the equal protection of the laws."

The 1895 decision, Plessy v. Ferguson, involved Horner Plessy, who was one-eighth African-American and seven-eighths white. He was arrested for refusing to ride in the colored coach of a train, as required by Louisiana state law. The Supreme Court's decision in this case that segregated facilities could exist if they were equal, became known as the "separate but equal" doctrine.

The 1954 desegregation decision, Brown vs. Board of Education of Topeka, overturned the "separate but equal" doctrine by arguing, from the findings of social science, that segregated education was inherently unequal. This meant that even if school facilities, teachers, equipment, and all other physical conditions were equal between two racially segregated schools, the two schools would still be unequal because of the fact of racial segregation.

In 1964 Congress took a significant step toward speeding up school desegregation by Passing the important Civil Rights Act. About school desegregation, Title VI of the 1964 Civil Rights Act was most important because it provided a means for the federal government to force school desegregation. In its final form, Title VI required the mandatory withholding of federal funds from institutions that practiced racial discrimination. Title VI states that no person, because of race, color, or national origin, could be excluded from or denied the benefits of any program receiving federal financial assistance. It required all federal agencies to establish guidelines to implement this policy. Refusal by institutions or projects to follow these guidelines was to result in the "termination of or refusal to grant or to continue assistance under such program or activity."

Title VI of the 1964 Civil Rights Act was important for two reasons. First, it established a major precedent for federal control of American public schools, by making explicit that the control of money would be one method used by the federal governm to shape local school policies. (This aspect of the law will be discussed in more detail in Chapter 9.) Second, it tuned the federal Office of Education into a policing agency with the responsibility of determining whether or not school systems were segregated and, if they were, of doing something about the segregated conditions.

One result of Title VI was to speed up the process of school desegregation in the South, particularly after the passage of federal legislation in 1965 that increased the amount of money available to local schools from the federal government. In the late 1960s southern school districts rapidly began to submit school desegregation plans to the Office of Education.

In the North, prosecution of inequality in educational opportunity as it related to school segregation required a different approach from that used in the South. In the South, school segregation existed by legislative acts that required separation of the races. There were no specific laws requiring separation of the races in the North. But even without specific laws, racial segregation existed. Therefore, it was necessary for individuals bringing complaints against northern school districts to prove that the existing patterns of racial segregation were the result of purposeful action by the school district. it had to be proved that school officials intended racial segregation to be a result of their educational policies.

The conditions required to prove segregation were explicitly outlined in 1974, in the Sixth Circuit Court of Appeals case Oliver v. Michigan State Board of Education. The court stated, "A presumption of segregative purpose arises when plaintiffs establish that the natural, probable and foreseeable result of public officials' action or inaction was an increase or perpetuation of public school segregation." This did not mean that individual motives or prejudices were to be investigated, but that the overall pattern of school actions had to be shown to increase racial segregation; that is, in the language of the court: "the question whether a purpose fit the pattern of segregation has manifested itself over time, despite the fact that individual official actions, considered alone, may not have been taken for segregative purposes."


As school desegregation proceeded across the country it caused a fundamental change in the organization of school curricula, with the introduction of magnet, or alternative, schools. Magnet, or alternative, schools are designed to provide an attractive program that will have wide appeal throughout a school district. Theoretically, magnet schools will attract enough students from all racial backgrounds to achieve integrated schools. For instance, a school district might establish a school for creative and performing arts that would attract students of all races from all areas of the district. If one criterion in selecting students is the maintenance of racial balance, then that school becomes a means of achieving integration.

The great attraction of magnet schools, and a major reason they are widely supported, is that they provide a means of voluntary desegregation. Also, they are supported because it is believed they will reduce the flight of middle-class and white families from school districts undergoing desegregation. It is hoped that by providing unique and attractive programs, school districts will stabilize their populations as voluntary desegregation takes place.

The concept of magnet schools also received support from the federal government, which aided in their rapid adoption by school districts. The 1976 amendments to the Emergency School Aid Act (ESAA) provided financial support specifically for magnet school programs. In addition, President Ronald Reagan's administration in 1984 used magnet-school plans as its method of achieving out-of court settlements of desegregation cases.

Some school districts developed elaborate plans for magnet schools. In Houston, Texas, magnet schools were established ranging from the Petro-Chemical Careers Institute to the High School for Law Enforcement and Criminal justice. In most school districts, magnet schools are introduced by first offering a program in creative and performing arts. For example, both Philadelphia and Cincinnati established a School of Creative and Performing Arts as their early magnet school offering. In Philadelphia, school-desegregation plans resulted in schools offering programs that range from the study of foreign affairs to community-based education. Often, special programs already in existence, particularly for academic excellence and vocational training, were classified as magnet schools.

By the 1990s, the magnet-school movement was incorporated into the concept of "choice" in education. Conservative and Republican political leaders in the 1980s argued that public schools would improve if they were forced to compete for students. A free marketplace idea of quality through competition was introduced into education. If schools were unable to attract students in a school district, they would either have to improve or close their doors.


Although the civil rights struggle held out the hope for greater equality of educational opportunity for many groups that were traditionally oppressed in American society, its actual results regarding desegregation have been rather dismal. On the positive side, there no longer exist state laws requiring school segregation. On the negative side, segregated schools continue to exist around the country. In 1992, the %age of African-Americans and Hispanics attending segregated schools rose, and Illinois, New York, Michigan, New Jersey, California, and Texas now lead the nation in segregation.

Although actual segregation of students by race is increasing in some areas, the courts are beginning to rule that some school systems are now "legally" desegregated. In 1994, federal judges declared school systems in Savannah, Georgia, and Dallas, Texas, to be legally desegregated. These decisions ended court supervision of the school systems. To accomplish desegregation, the Savannah school system spent $57 million since 1988, which, in part, was spent on creating twenty-two magnet schools. The Dallas school system spent $20 million on a "super-magnet" school to house six existing magnet high schools. While "legal" segregation has ended in some school systems, many schools are experiencing second-generation segregation.


Second Generation Segregation refers to forms of racial segregation that are a result of school practices such as tracking, ability grouping, and the misplacement of students in special education classes. Unlike segregation that existed by state laws in the South before the 1954 Brown decision, second-generation forms of segregation can occur in schools with balanced racial populations. In schools with balanced racial populations, students can be segregated by, for instance, placing all white students in one academic track and all African-American or Hispanic students in another track.

Occasionally, second-generation segregation is not accidental, but the result of conscious school policies. The situation in Selma, Alabama, in 1990 is a perfect example of consciously planned second-generation segregation. The boycott of Selma schools was prompted by the school board's attempt to fire the African-American superintendent who tried to increase the %age of African-American students in the upper-ability tracks of the high school from 3 to 10 %. The obvious purpose of the tracking system was to segregate white from African-American students. This segregation paralleled the economic segregation existing in the community.

The continuing economic segregation in Selma is highlighted in an interview with Professor William Bernard of the University of Alabama, conducted by Ronald Smothers for the New York Times. Bernard describes what he considers to be the "dual view of great change and no change." In this case, "the great change" is the appearance of African-Americans on the city councils and school boards of the South and the "no change" is the continuation of a segregated social order and white domination of economic power. Professor Bernard provides the following description of the economic order of the South:

Like Sinclair Lewis's "Main Street," there is a group of real estate, banking and other professional people who are the power in town, and much of the way people live is more affected by the decision of the banker than of the City Council. You don't have black bankers, but neither do you have white bankers from the wrong side of the tracks.

In reporter Smothers's interviews, African-Americans refer to the "white elite" and whites refer to the "blue bloods" who controlled the town's economy and political system. Aspiring African-American businesspeople spoke of their inability to get loans to start new businesses because of the economic elite working behind the scenes. Obviously, new African-American businesses would compete with existing white businesses. This white power elite controls Selma's city council, which includes four African-Americans among nine members. In Selma, the school board is appointed by the city council and includes five African-Americans among eleven members. Thus, the city council and school board reflect Professor Bernard's statement about the "dual view of great change and no change." The great change is the presence of African-Americans on the city council and school board, and the no change is the continuing economic power of a white elite.

Also, tracking in the Sehna high school reflects the "dual view of great change and no change." The great change is the integration of the school building and the 3 % of African-Americans placed in the high-ability tracks with 90%of the white students. The no change is the racial segregation that continues with the tracking system. The segregation resulting from the tracking system reflects the economic differences in the community. Tracking is a method of closing the door to equal economic opportunity for African-Americans in Selma.

Nationally, most studies examine the process of great change and no change as integration of schools results in segregation within schools. One collection of studies can be found in Ray Rist's Desegregated Schools: Appraisals of an American Experiment. The studies describe the subtle forms of segregation that began to occur as white and African-American students were placed in integrated schools for the first time. For instance, in one recently integrated school, African-American students were suspended for committing the same offenses for which white students received only a reprimand. A teacher in the school complained that, unlike African-American students, when white students were sent to the principal's office, they were immediately sent back to class. In this school, equal opportunity to attend the school did not result in equal treatment within the school.

Unequal treatment of different races while in the same school is one problem in integrated schools; the establishment of racial boundaries among students creates another. One study in the Rist book describes how racial boundaries were established in a high school in Memphis, Tennessee, after the students of an all-African-American school were integrated with the students of an all-white school. Here, white students maintained control over most student activities. Activities in which African-American students began to participate after integration were athletics and cheerleading. When this occurred, the status of these activities was denigrated by white students. On the other hand, whites could maintain control of the student government, ROTC, school clubs, and the staff of the yearbook.

This division of control among student activities reflected the rigid social boundaries that existed in the high school between the two groups. Individuals who crossed these social boundaries had to adapt to the social customs of those on the other side. For instance, African-American students changed their style of dress and social conduct to be accepted by white students. African-American students who crossed racial lines by making such changes found themselves accused by other African-American students of "acting white" and were subsequently rejected by "unchanged" African-American students. The same was true of white students who crossed racial boundaries.

The racial boundaries that continue to exist in high schools after integration reflects the racial barriers that continue in the larger society. The social life of a school often reflects the social world outside the school. Integration of a school system can help ensure equality of educational opportunity, but it cannot break down society's racial barriers. Although schools attempt to deal with this problem, its solution requires a general transformation of racial relationships in the larger society.


Two important books by Kemieth Meier, Joseph Stewar t, Jr., and Robert England's, Race, Class, and Education: The Politics of Second-Generation Discrimination, and Kenneth Meier and Joseph Stewart, jr.'s, The Politics of Hispanic Education focus on the relationship between political involvement and second-generation segregation. The two books are concerned with political organizations that promote segregative practices in schools and deny certain groups equality of educational opportunity. In addition, they link segregative practices with student achievement. They consider student achievement to be dependent on equal access to educational opportunities.

The main conclusion of these authors' studies is that segregative practices in schools are reduced by the presence on boards of education and in educational bureaucracies of representatives from affected groups such as Hispanics and African-Americans. Therefore, their suggested reforms focus on ways to increase representation

from dominated groups.

In their research, they found that schools still practice segregation through academic grouping, such as placement in special education classes, ability grouping, curriculum tracking, and segregated bilingual education. In addition, the researchers found that discipline is applied in different ways to different ethnic and racial groups. For instance, Hispanic and African-American students might be suspended or expelled from school at different rates than white students. Finally, they concluded that these segregative practices affect high school graduation rates.

About Hispanic-Americans, they conclude that the larger the number of Hispanic representatives in an educational system, the less chance of second-generation segregation. In their study, representation includes boards of education, educational bureaucracies, and teachers. In other words, there will be less second-generation segregation if there are more Hispanics on boards of education, and working as school administrators and teachers.

In addition, Meier and Stewart found an interrelationship between representation on boards of education and representation in the bureaucracy and teaching ranks. The higher representation of Hispanics on boards of education, the higher representation of Hispanics in the school administration. In other words, Hispanic representation on boards of education creates a greater-than-normal possibility that the board will choose Hispanic administrators. In turn, they found, the higher the representation of Hispanics in the bureaucracy, the higher the number of Hispanic teachers.

These findings suggest a chain reaction. Hispanics are elected to the board of education and they select more Hispanic administrators, who in turn select more Hispanic teachers, which results in a decline in second-generation segregation and greater equality of educational opportunity. Specially, the authors found that greater Hispanic representation is associated with proportionately fewer Hispanic students in special education classes and larger numbers of Hispanic students in gifted programs. Also, higher rates of Hispanic representation are related to less disparity in discipline. And finally, a higher representation of Hispanics is related to a higher proportion of Hispanics graduating from high school.

Policy recommendations follow logically from these conclusions. of course, Meier and Stewart recommend greater representation of minority populations on school boards. They recommend greater federal scrutiny of second-generation forms of discrimination and that school districts hire more Hispanic administrators and teachers. They recommend the elimination of most academic grouping.

Finally, the most important message in their research is that political power is the key to having a school system serve a group's educational interests. And for Hispanics, African-Americans, and Native Americans, this political power is essential to ending forms of inequality of educational opportunity. just as African-Americans in the south had to organize to stop segregation, other groups must exercise political muscle to stop second-generation forms of segregation.


Although African-Americans are at the forefront of the struggle for equal educational opportunity, Native Americans, Mexican-Americans, and Asian-Americans joined the civil rights movement with complaints that government schools were destroying their cultures and languages, and that they were subject to segregation. In particular, Native Americans wanted to gain control of the education of their children and restore their cultural heritage and languages to the curriculum. The demand for self-determination by Native Americans received consideration in government decisions after the election of John F. Kennedy in ig6o. The Kennedy administration advocated Indian participation in decisions regarding federal policies. Kennedy's secretary of interior, Stewart Udall, appointed a Task Force on Indian Affairs that, in its 1961 report, recommended than Native Americans be given full citizenship and self-sufficiency.

A result of the drive for self-determination was the creation of the Rough Rock Demonstration School in 1966. Established on a Navajo reservation in Arizona, the school was a joint effort of' the Office of Economic Opportunity and the Bureau of Indian Affairs. One major goal of the demonstration school was for Navajo parents to control the education of their children and to participate in all aspects of their schooling.

Besides tribal control, one important feature of the Rough Rock Demonstration School was the attempt to preserve the Navajo language and culture. In contrast to the attempts to destroy Native cultures and languages that took place in the nineteenth and early twentieth centuries, the goal of learning both Navajo and English was presented for preparing children to live in both cultures.

The struggle for self-determination was aided by the development of a pan-Indian movement in the United States. The pan-Indian movement was based on the assumption that Native American tribes shared a common set of values and interests. Pan-Indian organizations, such as the American Indian Movement (AIM) and the Indians of All Tribes, led demonstrations demanding self-determination. In 1969, members of the Indians of All Tribes seized Alcatraz Indians in San Francisco Bay calling attention to the plight of Native Americans and demanding that the island, which Indians had originally sold to the federal government for $24 worth of beads, be made an Indian cultural and education center. In 1972, AIM organized a march on Washington, D.C. called the Trail of Broken Treaties. Members of the march seized the Bureau of Indian Affairs and hung a large sign at its entrance declaring it the American Indian Embassy.

It was in this climate of civil rights activism and political support for Indian self-determination that the U.S. Senate Committee on Labor, and Public Welfare issued in 1969 the report Indian Education: A National Tragedy-A National Challenge. The report opened with a statement condemning previous educational policies of the federal government: "A careful review of the historical literature reveals that the dominant policy of the Federal Government toward the American Indian has been one of forced assimilation . . . [because of] a desire to divest the Indian of his land."

After a lengthy review of the failure of past educational policies, the report's first recommendation was for "maximum participation and control by Indians in establishing Indian education programs." In its second recommendation, the report called for maximum Indian participation in the development of educational programs in federal schools and local public schools. These educational programs were to include early childhood education, vocational education, work-study, and adult literacy education.

The congressional debates resulting from the report eventually culminated in the passage of the Indian Education Act in 1972. The declared policy of the legislation was to provide financial assistance to local schools to develop programs to meet the special" educational needs of Native American students In addition, the legislation created a federal "Office of Indian Education."

In 1974, the Bureau of Indian Affairs issued a set of procedures for protecting student rights and due process. In contrast to the brutal and dictatorial treatment of Indian students in the boarding schools of the late nineteenth and early twentieth centuries, each Indian student was extended the right "to make his or her own decisions where applicable. " And, in striking contrast to earlier deculturalization policies, Indian students were granted "the right to freedom of religion and culture."

The most important piece of legislation supporting self-determination was the 1975 Indian Self-Determination and Education Assistance Act, which gave tribes the power to contract with the federal government to run their own education and health programs. The legislation opened with the declaration that it was "an Act to provide maximum Indian participation in the Government and education of Indian people; to provide for the full participation of Indian tribes in programs and services conducted by the federal government. . . ."

The Indian Self-Determination and Education Assistance Act strengthened Indian participation in the control of education programs. The legislation provided that a local school district receiving funds for the education of Indian students that did not have a school board composed of mostly Indians had to establish a separate local committee composed of parents of Indian students in the school. This committee was given the authority over any Indian education programs contracted with the federal government.

The principles embodied in the Indian Self-determination and Education Assistance Act of 1975 were expanded upon in 1988 with the passage of the Tribally Controlled Schools Act. Besides the right to operate schools under a federal contract as provided in the 1975 legislation, the Tribally Controlled Schools Act provided for outright grants to tribes to support the operation of their own schools.

On August 6, 1998, President Bill Clinton issued an Executive Order for American Indian and Alaska Native Education directing a comprehensive and coordinated federal effort to improve academic performance and reduce dropout rates among Native Americans. The Executive Order emphasized that this effort would be consistent with "tribal traditions and cultures." President Clinton identified six major goals:

1i .Improving reading and mathematics

2.Increasing high school completion and post-secondary attendance rates

3.Reducing poverty and substance abuse

4.Creating strong, safe, and drug-free school environments

5.Improving science education

6.Expanding educational technology

In addition, the Executive Order requested a writing of a comprehensive federal Indian education policy by the year 2000. Included in this policy would be a consideration of the role of native languages and cultures in the development of educational strategies.


Similar to African-Americans, Mexican-Americans experienced many years of segregation in schools throughout the Southwest and attempted to redress their grievances through the courts. In Ontario, California, in 1945, Mexican-American parents demanded that the school board grant all requests for transfer out of segregated Mexican

schools. When the board refused this request, Gonzalo Mendez and William Guzman sued for violation of the Fourteenth Amendment to the Constitution. The school board responded to this suit by claiming that segregation was not based on race or national origins but on the necessity of providing special instruction. In other words, the school district justified segregation on the basis that Mexican-American children required special instruction because they came from homes where Spanish was the spoken language.

In 1946 a U.S. District Court ruled in Mendez et aL v. Westininster School District of Orange County that the only possible argument for segregation was the special educational needs of Mexican-American children. These needs involved the issue of learning English. Completely reversing the educational justification for segregation, the judge argued that "evidence clearly shows that Spanish-speaking children are retarded in learning English by lack of exposure to its use by segregation." Therefore, the court ruled segregation was illegal because it was not required by state law and because there was no valid educational justification for segregation.

Heartened by the Mendez decision, the League of United Latin American Citizens (LULAC), the Mexican-American equivalent of the NAACP, forged ahead in its legal attack on segregation in Texas. With support from LULAC, a group of parents in 1948 sued the Bastrop Independent School District, charging that local school authorities had no legal right to segregate children of Mexican descent and that segregation was solely because the children were of Mexican descent. In Delgado v. Bastrop Independent School District, the court ruled that segregating Mexican-American children was illegal and discrimination. The ruling required that the local school district end all segregation. The court did give local school districts the right to separate some children in the first grade, only if scientific tests showed that they needed special instruction in English and the separation took place on the same campus.

Overall, LULAC was pleased with the decision. The one point they were dissatisfied with was the provision for the separation of children in the first grade. This allowed local schools to practice what was referred to in the latter part of the twentieth century as second-generation segregation. As discussed, second-generation segregation refers to the practice of using educational justifications for segregating children within a single school building. In fact, many local Texas school districts did use the proviso for that purpose.

Although the Mendez and Delgado decisions did hold out the promise of ending segregation of Mexican-Americans, local school districts used many tactics to avoid integration, including manipulation of school district lines, choice plans, and different forms of second-generation segregation. For instance, the California State Department of Education reported in 1966 that 57 % of the children with Spanish surnames were still attending schools that were predominantly Mexican American. In 1973, a civil rights activist, John Caughey, estimated that two-thirds of the Mexican-American children in Los Angeles attended segregated schools. In All Deliberate Speed.- Segregation and Exclusion in California Schools, 1855-1975, Charles Wollenberg estimates that in California by 1973 more Mexican and Mexican american children attended segregated schools than in 1947.

In 1970, Mexican-Americans were officially recognized by the federal courts as an identifiable dominated group in the public schools in a Mexican-American Legal Defense and Education Fund (MALDEF) case, Cisernos v. Corpus Christi Independent School District. A central issue in the case was whether or not the 1954 school desegregation decision could be applied to Mexican Americans. The original Brown decision dealt specifically with African-Americans who were segregated by state and local laws. In his final decision, judge Owen Cox ruled that blacks and Mexican-Americans were segregated in the Corpus Christi school system and that Mexican americans were an identifiable dominated group because of their language, culture, religion, and Spanish surnames.

Despite years of struggle, many Mexican americans still feel their demands for equality of educational opportunity have not been met. In the fall of 1994, the Latino Education Coalition in Denver, Colorado, threatened to call a student strike if the school district did not hire more bilingual education teachers, involve Latino parents in policy decisions, and increase the number of Latino students going on to college. The threat was reminiscent of 1969, when three thousand Latino students went on strike against the Denver school district because of high dropout rates, low academic achievement, and the district's failure to be sensitive to cultural differences. It would appear that only steady political pressure can ensure equality of educational opportunity.


Also suffering a history of discrimination in U.S. schools, Asian-Americans are often viewed by others as the model minority group. And, until the publication of Ronald Takaki's Strangers front a Different Shore.- A History of Asian-Americans, Asian-Americans were usually invisible in standard U.S. history texts.

Ironically, the stereotype of a model minority student has caused many educators to overlook the educational problems encountered by many Asian-American students in U.S. schools. Part of the problem is the tendency for non-Asians to lump all Asian-Americans together. In fact, Asian-Americans represent a broad spectrum of different cultures and nations including, as Valerie Ooka Pang indicates in her article "Asian-American Children: A Diverse Population," "Cambodian, Chinese, East Indian, Filipino, Guamian, Hawaiian, Hmong, Indonesian, Japanese, Korean, Laotian, Samoan, and Vietnamese . . . [and] smaller Asian-American groups within the category of all other Asians." According to U.S. Census classification there are sixteen of these smaller Asian-American groups.

The diversity of Asian-Americans also reflects a wide range of adjustment to conditions in the United States. Most non-Asians think of Asian-Americans as successful entrepreneurs and professionals who were model students while ill school and quickly moved up the economic ladder after graduation. In fact, a report issued in 1994 by the Asian Pacific American Public Institute and the Asian-American Center suggests that many Asian-Americans face a difficult economic life in the United States. For instance, according to the report, while 8 % of households nationally received public assistance in 1991, 77 % of Cambodian and Laotian households in California received public assistance. The report states that Cambodians, Vietnamese, and Laotians have the highest rate of welfare dependency of any racial or ethnic group in the United States. For all Asian-Americans the per capita income in 1990 was $10,500, which was less than the $12,000 per capita income for non-Hispanic whites. Or, another way of viewing the economic differences in the Asian-American community, according to the report, is to consider that for every Asian-American family earning more than $75,000, there is an Asian-American family earning less than $10,000 a year. Although a third of Asian-Americans have college degrees, 23 % of those Asian-Americans over the age of 25 have less than a high school diploma. A quarter of all families in Chinatown in New York City are living below the poverty line.

While economic figures highlight the plight of many Asian-Americans, history points out the educational discrimination encountered by Asian-American students. In All Deliberate Speed, Charles Wollenberg tells the story of the denial of equal educational opportunity to Asian-Americans in California schools. With cries of "yellow peril" coming from the European-American population, the state superintendent of public instruction in California, William Welcher, pointed out in 1884 that the state constitution called Chinese "dangerous to the well-being of the state" and, therefore, argued that San Francisco did not have "to undergo the expense of educating such people." Denied a public education for his daughter, Joseph Tape, an Americanized Chinese, challenged the decision in court. judge Maguire of the municipal court ruled that since the daughter, Mamie, was an American citizen she could not be denied equal educational opportunity according to the Fourteenth Amendment to the U.S. Constitution. In addition, judge Maguire argued that it was unjust to tax Chinese for the support of a school system that excluded Chinese children. State superintendent Welcher reacted angrily to the decision, declaring it a "terrible disaster" and asked, "Shall we abandon the education of our children to provide that of the Chinese who are thrusting themselves upon us?"

In reaction to the court decision, the California State Assembly passed legislation allowing school districts to establish segregated schools for "Mongolians." This legislation empowered the San Francisco Board of Education to establish a segregated school for Asians. The courts affirmed this action in 1902, when Wong Him challenged the requirement of attending a segregated institution. Eventually, pressure from the Chinese-American community brought an end to segregation. In 1921, Chinese-American educator Mary Bo-Tze Lee challenged the segregation policy by showing that Chinese students scored as well as white students on IQ tests. As the Chinese population dispersed through the city, traditionally white schools were forced to open their doors to Chinese students. A study in 1947 found that formal school segregation had ended but that the original segregated Commodore Stockton school was still 100 % Chinese.

Asian-American students are currently discriminated against because of the stereotype of "model minority" student. Asian-American students with educational problems are often neglected because teachers assume they will do well in school. On the other hand, many non-Asian educators resent the achievement of some Asian-Americans. In 1987, Time magazine called Asian-Americans the "new whiz kids." Time reported that Asian-Americans comprised 25 % of the entering class at the University of California at Berkeley, 21 % at the California Institute of Technology, 20 % at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, and 14 % at Harvard. Time magazine also reported in 1987 that because of quota systems many qualified Asian-Americans were being refused admission to major universities.

The largest number of complaints centered on the admission policies of the University of California at Berkeley. Time quotes the co-chair-person of the Asian-American Task Force on University Admissions, Alameda County Superior Court judge Ken Kawaichi, as stating that university administrators envision a campus that "is mostly white, mostly upper-class with limited numbers of African-Americans, Hispanics and Asians. One day they looked around and said, 'My goodness, look at this campus. What are all these Asian people doing here?' Then they started tinkering with the system."

The political actions taken by Asian-Americans, Mexican-Americans, and Native Americans to gain equal educational opportunity highlight the recent research findings that second-generation segregation can be reduced by the exercise of effective political power. As an earlier section suggests, there is evidence of a relationship among decreasing second-generation segregation, the election of Hispanics and African-Americans to school boards, and the hiring of Hispanics and African-Americans as teachers and school administrators. These findings are applicable to situations of segregation encountered by Native Americans and Asian-Americans.


Equal educational opportunity for women was high on the agenda of the National Organization for Women (NOW) when it organized in 1966. The founding document of the organization declared, "There is no civil rights movement to speak for women as there has been for Negroes and other victims of discrimination. 'The National Organization for Women must therefore begin to speak." In the NOW's founding document, education is called "the key to effective participation in today's economy . . . [and public schools should educate woman] to her full potential of human ability." During its first years of activism, NOW focused on the following:

* Eliminating discriminatory quotas against women in college and professional school admissions

Urging parents, counselors, and teachers to encourage women to pursue higher education and professional education

Eliminating discriminatory practices against women in the awarding of fellowships and loans

Investigating the problem of female school dropouts

NOW's activities and that of other women's organizations turned to legal action with the passage of Title IX of the 1972 Higher Education Act. Title IX provided for sexual equality in employment in educational institutions and for sexual equality in educational programs. The legislation applied to all educational institutions, including preschool, elementary and secondary schools, vocational and professional schools, and public and private undergraduate and graduate institutions. A 1983 U.S. Supreme Court decision, Grove City College v. Bell, restricted Title IX in its application to specific educational programs within institutions. In the 1987 Civil Rights Restoration Act, Congress overturned the Court's decision and amended Title IX to include all activities of an educational institution receiving federal aid.

Armed with Title LK, NOW and other women's organizations placed pressure on local school Systems and colleges to ensure equal treatment of women in vocational education, athletic programs, textbooks and the curriculum, testing, and college admissions. Following is a brief chronological list of achievements in providing equality of educational opportunity for women:

* 1972 Legal action against school systems with segregated courses in home economics and industrial arts

* 1974 With backing from NOW, more than 1,000 women's studies departments are created on college campuses

* 1975 Federal regulations to end sex discrimination in athletics

* 1976 Laws regarding female work in athletics; gender-biased hiring in school administration

* 1976 Educational Equity Act authorizes Office of Education to prepare "non-sexist

curricula and nondiscriminatory vocational and career counseling, sports education, and other programs designed to achieve equity for all students regardless of sex"

* 1983 Last all-male school in IVY League, Columbia University, becomes coeducational

* 1986 FairTest organized to counter sex bias in High-stakes tests

* 1996 Virginia Military Institute and the Citadel become coeducational

By 1996, NOW and other women's organizations could claim the following accomplishments:

The number of female medical school graduates increased from 8.4 % in 1969 to 34.5 % in 1990.

Age of doctoral/professional degrees awarded women - 14.4 % in 1971 to 36.8 % in 1991.

Most discrimination in vocational programs ended.

Female participation in high school athletics increased from 7 % in 1972 to 37 % in 1992 and in college athletics from 15.6 % in 1972 to 34.8 % in 1993.


In Failing at Fairness.- How America's Schools Cheat Girls, Myra and David Sadker summarize current research on educational discrimination against girls. One surprising result of their research and analysis of other data was that girls are equal to or ahead of boys in most measures of academic achievement and psychological health during the early years of schooling, but by the end of high school and college, girls have fallen behind boys on these measurements. On entrance examinations to college, girls score lower than boys, particularly in science and mathematics. Boys receive more state and national scholarships. Women score lower than men on all entrance examinations to professional schools.

An explanation for the decline in test scores is that girls suffer a greater decline than boys in self-esteem from elementary school to high school. (Of course, an important general question about the following statistics is why both boys and girls decline in feelings of self-esteem.) As a measure of self-esteem, the Sadkers rely on responses to the statement, "I'm happy the way I am." The Sadkers report that in elementary school 60 % of girls and 67 % of boys responded positively to the statement. By high school these positive responses declined to 29 % for girls and 46 % for boys. In other words, the decline in self-esteem for girls was thirty-one %age points as compared with twenty-one %age points for boys. Why is there less self-esteem and a greater decline in self-esteem among girls as compared with boys?

To get an answer to the question, the Sadkers asked students how their lives would be different if they suddenly were transformed into members of the opposite sex. Overall, girls responded with feelings that it wouldn't be so bad and that it would open up opportunities to participate in sports ind politics. In addition, girls felt they would have more freedom and respect. Regarding self-esteem, girls expressed little regret about the consequences of the sex change. In contrast, boys expressed horror at the idea, and many said they would commit suicide. They saw themselves becoming second-class citizens, being denied access to athletics and outdoor activities, and being racked with physical problems. Concerning self-esteem, and in contrast to girls, boys expressed nothing but regret about the consequences of the sex change.

Contributing to the lack of self-esteem among girls, the Sadkers argue, are modes of classroom interaction, the representation of women in textbooks and other educational materials, and the discriminatory content of standardized tests. In one of their workshops with classroom teachers, the Sadkers illustrate classroom sex bias by asking four of the participants-two men and two women to act like students in a middle-school social studies classroom. The lesson is about the American Revolution and it begins with an examination of homework. Acting as the teacher, David Sadker perfunctorily tells one woman that two of her answers are wrong and comments to the group on the neatness of the other woman's homework. He tells one man that two of his answers are wrong and, unlike his response to the woman with wrong answers, he urges the man to try harder and suggests ways of improving his answers. David then states to the other man that he faded to do his homework assignment. In contrast to the woman with the neat paper, this man illustrates what the Sadkers call the "bad boy role."

David Sadker then continues the lesson by discussing battles and leaders. All of the Revolutionary leaders are, of course, male. During the lesson he calls on the males twenty times each while only calling on one woman twice and completely ignoring the other woman. The one woman called on misses her question because she is given only half a second to respond. When questioning the men, David Sadker spends time giving hints and probing. At the end of this demonstration lesson, the Sadkers report, one woman commented that she felt like she was back in school. She often had the right answer but was never called on by the teacher.

What this workshop demonstration illustrates, based on the Sadkers' findings on classroom interaction, is that boys receive more and better instruction. Boys are more often called on by the teacher and boys interact more with the teacher than girls. In a typical classroom situation, if both boys and girls have their hands raised to answer a question, the teacher is most likely to call on a boy. A teacher will spend more time responding to a boy's question than to a girl's question. In other words, girls do not receive equal educational opportunity in the classroom.

In addition, women are not so well represented as men in textbooks. The Sadkers found in 1989 elementary school language arts textbooks that there were from two to three times as many pictures of men as women. In one elementary history text, they found four times as many pictures of men as women. In one 1992 world history textbook, of 631 pages they found only 7 pages related to women. Two of those pages were devoted to a fifth-grade female student who made a peace trip to the Soviet Union.

It is most likely that the treatment received by girls in the classroom and in textbooks contributes to their low self-esteem and to their decline, as compared with boys, high performance on standardized tests from elementary school to high school. it seems logical that if less instructional time is spent with girls than boys, that boys would more rapidly advance academically. In addition, without equal representation in textbooks, girls might value themselves less and have less incentive to achieve. Instructional time and representation in textbooks contribute to the glass ceiling of the classroom.

The lowering of self-esteem and content bias may contribute to the significant gender gap in scores on standardized college entrance examinations and entrance examinations to professional schools. For instance, on the widely used Scholastic Aptitude Test (SAT) males score fifty points higher on the math section and tip to twelve points higher on the verbal section. It is important to understand that discrimination in standardized testing involves the denial of economic rewards. These economic rewards are scholarships and career opportunities.

The content bias and economic value of standardized tests were recognized in a 1989 ruling by a federal judge in New York. The judge ruled that the awarding of New York State scholarships using the SAT discriminated against female students. The case was brought to court. by the Girls Clubs of America and the National Organization for Women. The court argued that the scholarships were to be awarded based on academic achievement in high school and that the SAT was not constructed to test achievement but to determine college performance. The court's decision states, "The evidence is clear that females score significantly below males on the SAT while they do equally or slightly better in high schools."

In this court case, academic achievement was defined according to grades received in high school courses. Interestingly, the Sadkers argue that this apparent paradox between girls' high grades and low standardized-test scores is a result of grade inflation. This grade inflation results from female passivity and their willingness to follow classroom rules. Often, teachers formally and informally incorporate evaluations of student behavior in their academic grading practices. For girls, good behavior can result in good grades.

But the issue of grade inflation still doesn't solve the puzzle of lower performance by girls on tests like the SAT. The Sadkers suggest that one possible reason for the differences in scores between males and females is that the content of standardized tests is biased. Boys are more familiar with organized sports, financial issues, science, wars, and dates. Consequently, test items referring to these areas tend to favor boys. As an example, the Sadkers describe a gifted high school girl who lost her concentration on the Preliminary SAT when she encountered an analogy question comparing a "football and a gridiron." The analogy baffled her because she had little knowledge of football.

One possible solution to teacher bias in classroom interaction, the Sadkers suggest, is to have an observer code classroom interaction so that the teacher becomes aware of any possible bias. If teachers are unconsciously favoring boys, then this observation provides the opportunity for them to change their behavior. One teacher told the Sadkers that she distributed two chips to all students. When students want to comment or ask a question, they have to give up one chip. Before the class is over, all students must use their two chips. This guarantees equal participation of all students and ensures that classroom interaction is not dominated by only a few students. In addition, the Sadkers recommend that teachers consciously search for books portraying strong female characters in a variety of occupational and social roles. They point to the work of the National Women's History Project, which since the 1970s has published materials emphasizing women's roles in history. In addition, the Sadkers recommend the use of workshops to heighten teachers' awareness of their own possible sexist behavior and to understand how to find nonsexist educational material for the classroom.

Another possible solution is single-sex education. This would eliminate the problem of female students having to compete with male students for teachers' attention. In classrooms of only girls, teachers would not tend to push girls aside and focus their instructional efforts on boys. In an all-girls school or classroom, female students might receive the equal educational opportunity denied to them in a coed classroom.

Writing in favor of girls' schools, Susan Estrich, professor of law and political science at the University of Southern California, notes that 60 % of the National Merit Scholarship finalists are boys. Echoing the Sadkers' findings, she reports from a 1992 study of the American Association of University Women, "that even though girls get better grades (except in math), they get less from schools." While she does not dismiss efforts to equalize opportunities for girls in coed schools, she argues that currently single-sex education is working. For instance, in all-girls schools 80 % of girls take four years of math and science, whereas in coed schools the average is two years of math and science. In Fortune 1000 companies, one-third of the female board members are graduates of women's colleges even though graduates of women's colleges represent only 4 % of all female college graduates. In addition, graduates of women's colleges earn 43 % of the math and 50 % of engineering doctorates earned by all women, and they outnumber all other females in Who's Who.

Estrich does see the possibility of offering single-sex classes within a coed institution. She cites the example of the Illinois Math and Science Academy, which experimented with a girls-only calculus-based physics class. Instead of sitting meekly at their desks while boys command all the attention, girls are actively asking and answering questions. In an all-girls algebra class in Ventura, California, the teacher reports spending time building self-confidence along with teaching math. For Estiich, at least at this point in time, all-girls schools are a means for ending sexism in education.

Of course, for an all-girls school or classroom to overcome the problems of sexism completely it would require the maintenance of the same educational expectations as there are for boys and the use of textbooks and other educational materials that provide strong female role models. As I discussed previously in this chapter, one of the problems with segregated female education in the nineteenth century was the belief that women did not have the physical and mental stamina to undergo the same academic demands as men. Consequently, to avoid sexism, there should be no watering down of the curriculum in female schools and classrooms. In addition, sex segregated education would have to avoid the pitfalls of tracking women into a sex-segregated labor market. One of the problems in the development of the high school in the early twentieth century was that it tended to track women into certain occupations. For an all-girls school or classroom to avoid this form of discrimination, there would have to be an emphasis on opening up all career opportunities for women.

There are many critics of proposals for all-female schools. One University of Michigan researcher, Valerie Lee, found that many all-girls classrooms still contained high levels of sexist behavior on the part of the teacher. In one case, a history teacher assigned a research paper and told students that she would provide "major hand holding" to help the students. Lee argued that the offer of major hand-holding would not occur in a boy's school. In addition, she found "male bashing" taking place in some all-female schools.

In addition, Lee found boys in all-male schools engaging in serious sexist comments about women. in other words, all-female schools do not do anything about the sexist attitudes of men. In fact, all male schools might reinforce male sexist behavior. For instance, in a 1994 court case involving a suit by Shannon Faulkner to gain entrance to the all male military college, The Citadel, one of the witnesses, a 1991 graduate of the school, reported that the word woman was used on campus in a derogatory manner "every day, every minute, every hour [it was] a part of the life there."

Therefore, there is the possibility that single sex education might result in greater academic achievement for girls while doing nothing about sexist attitudes among men. The academic gains made by women might mean little in a world dominated by sexist males. Also, the courts may not approve of single-sex public schools, because of a decision regarding all-boys African-schools in Detroit. The court argued American that the all-boys schools were a violation of the 1954 Brown decision that declared as unconstitutional "separate but equal" schools that were racially segregated. In the Detroit case, separate but equal all-boys schools were declared unconstitutional.

In 1998, the American Association of University Women (AAUW) released a follow-Lip report to its earlier charges that public schools were "shortchanging" girls. The new study found that the number of girls enrolled in algebra, trigonometry, pre-calculus, and calculus was growing at a faster rate than boys. Probably the most impressive statistic was that the differences between boys and girls was the smallest in the world on international tests in math and science.

However, the report found that technology, particularly computer technology, is emerging as the new "boys' club." The report found that girls have less exposure to computers inside and outside of school ,ind that girls feel less confident about using computers. The gap between boys and girls in computer knowledge and use it increases from grades 8 to I 1. Only 17 % of students taking the College Board's Advanced Placement test in computer science were women.

In reference to the technological gap between males and females, Janice Weinman, the executive director of the Washington-based AAUW said, "This is becoming the new club [computer technology] from which girls are feeling disenfranchised. Consequently, girls are not going to be appropriately prepared for the technology era of the new 21st century."

However, there ire areas where girls outperform boys. More girls than boys are enrolled it, advanced English, foreign language, and arts courses. In addition, girls outscore boys by wide margins on reading and writing tests in middle and elementary grades. Education Week reporter Debra Viadero provides the following summary of other findings in the AAUW study:

* In school-to-work programs, which combine challenging academics with vocational training, girls still tend to cluster in traditional female occupations.

Although girls are taking more advanced placement courses and getting better grades than boys, their scores on those exams still tend to be lower.

On large-scale exams, such as the National Assessment of Educational Progress, the top scorers in math and science still tend to be boys.


By the 1960s, the civil rights movement encompassed students with special needs, including students with physical handicaps; special mental, emotional, and behavioral needs; and hearing and visual impairments. Within the context of equality of educational opportunity, students with special needs could only participate equally in schools with other students if they received some form of special help. Since the nineteenth century many of the needs of these students have been neglected by local and state school authorities because of the expense of special facilities and teachers.

The political movement for federal legislation to aid students with special needs followed a path similar to the rest of the civil rights movement. First, finding themselves unable to change educational institutions by pressuring local and state governments, organized groups interested in improving educational opportunities for students with special needs turned to the courts. This was the path taken in the late 1960s by the Pennsylvania Association for Retarded Children (PARC). PARC was one of many associations organized in the 1950s to aid citizens with special needs. These organizations were concerned with state laws that excluded children with special needs from educational institutions because they were considered uneducable and unattainable. State organizations like PARC and the National Association for Retarded Children campaigned to eliminate these laws and to demonstrate the educability of all children. But, as the civil rights movement discovered throughout the century, local and state officials were resistant to change and relief had to be sought from the judicial system.

In Pennsylvania Association for Retarded Children (PARC) v. Commonwealth of Pennsylvania, a case that was as important for the rights of children with special needs as the Brown decision was for African-Americans, PARC objected to conditions in the Pennliurst State School and Hospital. In framing the case, lawyers for PARC focused on the legal fight to an education for children with special needs. PARC, working with the major federal lobbyist for children with special needs, the Council for Exceptional Children (CEC), overwhelmed the court with evidence on the equability of children with special needs. The state withdrew its case, and the court enjoined the state from excluding children with special needs from a public education and required that every child be allowed access to an education. Publicity about the PARC case prompted other lobbying groups to file thirty-six cases against different state governments. The CEC prepared model legislation and lobbied for its passage at the state and federal levels.

In 1975, Congress passed Public Law 94-142 (Education for All Handicapped Children Act) that guaranteed equal educational opportunity for all children with special needs. One of the issues confronting Congress during the debates over the legislation was that of increased federal control over local school systems. One way that Congress decided to resolve this issue was to require that an individual education plan (IEP) be written for each student with special needs. This avoided direct federal control by requiring that each student's IEP be developed at the local level. IEPs are now a standard part of education programs for children with special needs. Public Law 94-142 requires that an IEP be developed for each child jointly by the local educational agency and the child's parents or guardians. This gives the child or the parents the right to negotiate with the local school system about the type of services to be delivered.


Another concern regarding the education of children with special needs is their isolation from other students and lack of access to the educational opportunities of a regular classroom. Federal legislation called for placing students in the "least restrictive environment." The result was the practice of main streaming. The basic idea of main streaming is that students with special needs will spend part of their day in a special education classroom and part of the day in regular classrooms. Obviously, this arrangement requires the classroom teacher to have some knowledge of the requirements of students with special needs. Working together, special education teachers and regular classroom teachers plan the mainstreanling of students with special needs to regular classrooms.

Many parents of students with special needs and many special education professionals felt that main streaming did not go far enough in providing a "least restrictive environment." They demanded full inclusion. Full inclusion is different from main streaming because students with special needs spend all their time in a regular classroom. The basic argument for full inclusion is that even with main streaming, students with special needs spend a majority of their time segregated from regular students. Similar to any form of segregation, the isolation of children with special needs often deprives them of contact with other students and denies them access to equipment found in regular classrooms, such as scientific equipment, audiovisual aids, classroom libraries, and computers. Full inclusion, it is believed, will improve the educational achievement and social development of children with special needs.

In 1990, advocates of full inclusion received federal support with the passage of the Americans with Disabilities Act. This historic legislation bans all forms of discrimination against the disabled. The Americans with Disabilities Act played an important role in the 1992 court decision, Oberti v. Board of Education of the Borough of Clementon School District, which involved an 8 year-old, Rafael Oberti, classified as educable mentally retarded. U.S. District Court judge John F. Gerry argued that the Americans with Disabilities Act requires that people with disabilities be given equal access to services provided by any agency receiving federal money, including public schools. judge Gerry decided that Rafael Oberti could manage in a regular classroom with special aides and a special curriculum. In his decision, judge Gerry wrote, "Inclusion is a right, not a privilege for a select few."

In 1992, the National Association of State Boards of Education gave its support to the idea of full inclusion with the issuance of its report, Winners All: A Call for Inclusive Schools. The report calls for a fundamental shift in the provision of services for students with special needs. As the report envisions the full-inclusion process, rather than teaching in a separate classroom, special-education teachers would provide their services in regular classrooms by team teaching with the regular teacher or providing other support.

The idea of inclusion is resisted by some parents who believe that separate special education classrooms provide important benefits for their children. For instance, twenty parents of children with special needs attending the Vaughn Occupational High School in Chicago carried signs at the board of education meeting on September 7, 1994, reading "The board's inclusion is exclusion." The parents were protesting the board's decision to send their children to neighborhood schools for inclusion in regular classrooms. Traditionally, Vaughn provided vocational training for students with special needs. The students would hold low-level jobs at McDonald's, an airline food service company, and a class-installation business.

The board's action regarding the Vaughn students was the result of a 1992 complaint by the Illinois state board that Vaughn students were not spending time with non-disabled peers. The state board threatened to remove all federal and state funds from the school district if the students were not included in regular classrooms. Martha Luna complained about the decision because it denied her 15-year-old son, Tony, vocational training to meet his needs. Ms. Luna stated, "I know Tony won't go to college so I don't expect that, just for him to learn everyday living and work skills."


Why do some surveys find that over 70 % of practicing teachers object to including students with special needs in their classrooms? The West Virginia Federation of Teachers released a survey of 1,121 teachers showing that 87 % did not believe that inclusion helped general education students and 78 % did not believe that inclusion helped students with special needs. A survey of teachers in Howard County, Maryland, reports that 64 % of middle-school teachers believe "that inclusion detracts from their ability to fully serve the needs of the general student population." Also, only 21 % believed inclusion benefitted children with special needs. The complaints about inclusion are occurring as the proportion of disabled students receiving their education in regular classrooms increases. For instance, in 1991 32.8 % of disabled students were receiving their educations in regular classrooms. By 1995, the figure rose to 44.5 %.

The preceding figures indicate the complications in implementing inclusion programs. The following is a list of objections by teachers to inclusion programs:

Disabled students are moved into regular classrooms without any support services.

Experienced teachers have never received training in teaching students with special needs or in teaching in an inclusive classroom.

School districts implement inclusion policies do not provide adequate training for general education teachers.

Education schools do not provide prospective teachers with a basic knowledge of learning disabilities or situations they are likely to confront in inclusive classrooms.

General education teachers are often excluded from the individualized education plan (IEP) team.

Parents of non-disabled students worry education will be compromised in inclusive classrooms.

The preceding list of issues contains its own solutions, which include (1) more education and training for experienced and future teachers, (2) adequate support services for teachers in inclusive classrooms, (3) teacher participation on the individual planning team, and (4) education of parents about inclusive classrooms. Model full inclusion schools and teacher education programs do exist that address the preceding issues. Teachers and administrators at the Zachery Taylor Elementary School, a suburban Washington, D.C., community, operate a model inclusion school that they believe is improving the academic and social performance of disabled students and has made other students more caring and tolerant. Syracuse University, in response to the problem of inadequately prepared teachers, instructs general education and special education teachers together. At the end of four years, both groups receive dual certification. In answer to worried parents of students in general education, John McDonnell, chair of the special education department at the University of Utah, states, "There really has been no effect on the educational progress of kids without disabilities by including kids with disabilities at the classroom level."

The Education for All Handicapped Children Act, IEP, main streaming, the Americans with Disabilities Act, and full inclusion highlight the extent to which the civil rights movement reached out to include concerns for equal educational opportunity for all children, including children with special needs. It is a matter of justice that if all citizens are taxed to support schools, then all citizens should have an equal opportunity to attend school and benefit from an education.


Unequal educational opportunities continue to plague American schools. Even though the civil rights movement was able to overturn laws requiring school segregation, racial segregation between schools and second-generation segregation in schools continue to be problems. Differences between school districts in expenditures per student tend to increase the effects of segregation.

Many Hispanic, African-American, and Native American students attend schools where Per. student expenditures are considerably below those of elite suburban and private schools. These reduced expenditures contribute to unequal educational opportunity that, in turn, affects a student's ability to compete in the labor market.

It is possible, that unequal school expenditures, segregation, and second-generation segregation will result in the vast majority of Hispanics, African-Americans, and Native Americans being confined to boring and tedious jobs in routine production services and in-person set-vices. Of course, large numbers of low-income whites will also fill the ranks of these occupations. If education remains the key to advancement to high paying and interesting work, and if present inequalities and forms of segregation continue, then it is possible that the children of routine production and in-person services workers will be trapped in the occupations of their parents. If the promise of America is that hard work will lead to social mobility, then these conditions might foretell the end of the American Dream.

 Source: "Equality of Educational Opportunity" from American Education, 9th Edition, by Joel Spring copyright 2000. New York: McGraw-Hill, Inc.

Culture and the Role of School

Young Pai

An understanding of the school-culture relationship is important in developing a theoretical perspective from which to evaluate and interpret the respective roles of school and society in a situation where educational reforms are needed. In this chapter we will discuss the relationship between schooling and culture by examining five major views about the role of schooling as it relates to social class. This discussion is necessary because the social class dynamics in the lives of teachers, administrators, and students influence the educational outcomes of schooling. Further, such outcomes may contribute to social-class-related conflicts and resulting social inequities. Historically, we are inclined to see schools as the great equalizer. However, they are bound to be affected by social class and accompanying cultural dynamics in any society because schools always function in particular social order. For this reason, a study of the theories about the role of schooling may help us understand how the work of schools and their personnel tends to perpetuate social classes or promote socioeconomic mobility. We may also gain insight regarding what fundamental educational reform may be needed to make schools more effective and democratic.

As we have seen in preceding chapters, an intimate relationship exists between schools and the sociocultural conditions of the larger society in which they function. Hence, our inability or unwillingness to examine the relationship between school and society usually leads to the erroneous belief that the school is solely to blame for the socioeconomic lags and moral ills of American society. This exaggerated notion about the educational system's capacity as an agent of social change may in turn result in blaming the teachers and schools for practically every adversity in our society. Disappointments in and frustrations about our schools are the usual consequences of taking an oversimplified approach to educational reform. Yet, past attempts at major educational reforms in the United States have been focused primarily on organizational and curricular changes. For example, the United States attempted to overtake the USSR in the aerospace race through educational reforms in the late 1950s. But these measures were largely concerned with placing greater emphasis on such academic subject matters as the sciences, mathematics, and foreign languages rather than on the so-called life adjustment process.

No more than a decade later American education was charged as inhumane because it was allegedly preoccupied with only the intellectual growth of the learners. Again, schools and teachers were accused of killing children's love for learning with oppressive and punitive practices. The remedy for this sorry state of American education was to have come from humanistic, or confluent, education, which claimed to nurture the learner's heart as well as the mind. In practice, this approach emphasized developing skills to deal with one's feelings and interpersonal relations. Similar to those of the post-Sputnik era, most of the reform measures proposed since the mid-1980s also have sought to improve American education by having students devote more time to studying the liberal arts. In the 1990s, educational reform programs included restructured schools (e.g., charter schools and site-based management), authentic learning, and performance-based assessment. The long-term effects of these measure are yet to be seen.

There is little evidence to suggest that the educational reforms tried out since the late 1950s have had a lasting impact on the quality of American education or on the socioeconomic or moral conditions of this society. Indeed, whatever impact the reform programs had were short-lived and superficial. The reformers simply failed to understand that the school is only one of a multitude of institutions in our society and that no amount of tinkering with any single institution could bring about fundamental social, economic, or moral changes. On the contrary, without major social changes, educational reforms are bound to have minimal impact in our lives because the school as a specialized social institution reflects the culture of the larger society. As an illustration, our production-consumption oriented world view inclines us to see education as a type of industrial production. Hence, we speak of packaging and marketing educational programs and holding our schools accountable to the consumers of educational products.


Every society makes deliberate attempts to transmit its culture to the young. In this way, they may become full-fledged and contributing members of the society. Culture includes those beliefs, values, and attitudes that a society considers fundamental to its survival and perpetuation. Hence, education is necessarily a deliberate and guilt laden (moral) enterprise (Durkheim, 1961). As pointed out in chapter 2, the educative process can be carried on with or without schools. Schools are specialized social institutions specifically designed to transmit the culture of the larger society to the young. This implies that the cultural norms of a society are the primary sources from which schools derive their goals and that each society has its own particular, view of the role of schooling.

In a society such as the United States, where the schools are governed and supported by local communities, the unique values and needs of those communities have direct bearing on the development of specific school goals. For instance, the educational goals of a school district in a politically and religiously conservative agricultural community must not only be consonant with the broad cultural norms of the larger society but must also conform to local demands. More specifically, the district may include agriculture-related subject matter in the curriculum to meet the community's special needs. In accordance with the community's religious and moral perspectives, the district may require school prayer and the teaching of creationism while restricting other activities viewed as liberal. However, the district's responsiveness to the special needs and expectations of' the local community may conflict with the role of the school as envisioned by the larger society. Such conflict becomes much more severe if the larger society expects its schools to work toward perpetuating the established culture and also serve as an agent of social change. Dare the School Build a New Social Order? by George S. Counts (1932) and the writings of John Dewey, John Childs, Harold Rugg, and William Heard Kilpatrick represent early arguments for making the American school and its teachers agents of social reform.

Disputes regarding the proper role of schooling often are attributable to the fact that cultural transmission as the school's primary goal is usually stated in very broad terms. Hence, there is no consensus about the relative importance of different cultural norms or the order in which such norms are to be transmitted to the young. But even if different interest groups and individuals agree about a school district's general educational goals, many disparate views regarding how such general goals are to be translated into concrete school policies, operational procedures, curricula, and a myriad of other school activities are likely. Such court cases as Pico v. Board of Education (I 980) over book banning, Wallace v. Jaffree (I 985) concerning silent prayer in schools, and Lubbock Civil Liberties Union v. Lubbock Independent School District (1983) on religious gatherings on school premises are only a few examples of attempts to resolve conflicts between disparate conceptions of the role of schooling through legal means. Further, these cases also demonstrate how conflicting beliefs about school activities stem from the divergent ways in which our educators, communities, and other special interest groups interpret the broadly conceived role of the American school.


If there are disagreements about how schools should translate transmission of culture into specific instructional objectives, policies, and programs, there disparate views regarding the nature of the role of schooling.

are even more disparate views regarding the nature of the role of schooling. The following sections will examine five perspectives; (1) structural/functionalist, (2) conflict, (3) critical, (4) interpretivist, and (5) postmodern.

The Structural/Functionalist Perspective

According to the structural/functionalist theory (henceforth called the functionalist theory), society is a living organism with many interrelated parts of the life of a society as an organism depends on how well each part performs its distinctive role in relation to the workings of other parts. As one type of institution responsible for the socialization of the young, the school's object "is to arouse and to develop in the child a number of physical, intellectual and moral states which are demanded of him by both the political society as a whole and the special milieu for which he is specifically destined" (Durkheim, 1985a, p. 22). To borrow Talcott Parsons's (1985) words, socialization is "the development in individuals of the commitments and capacities which are essential prerequisites of their future role-performance" (p. 180). The commitments consist of the implementation of the broad values of society and the performance of a specific type of role within the structure of society. Thus, a society cannot survive unless its members possess and perpetuate a set of common physical skills, intellectual knowledge, and ethical values (Durkheim, 1985a, p. 21). The acquisition of these skills, knowledge, and values by the young is too important to be left to chance. Although there are many agents of socialization, according to Durkheim (1985b), schools are primarily responsible for systematically organizing the welter of divergent beliefs, knowledge, and skills to "set off what is essential and vital; and play down the trivial and the secondary" (p. 29).

For Durkheim and Parsons, members of a society need to have a set of common beliefs, knowledge, and values for social unity and cohesion. But they are equally persuaded that the school should provide different and more highly specialized knowledge and skills to certain people, for every society requires that its members have different roles (Durkheim, 1985a, p. 21; Parsons, 1985, pp. 180-182). For example, not everyone in our society can or should become engineers or historians, because our society has diverse needs and problems that require different competencies at varying levels. Further, although both the family and the school socialize the young through transmission of culture, the school has a set of very distinctive roles. According to Parsons (1985), schooling enables the child to emotionally separate from the family and learn to internalize a set of cultural values and norms that are broader than those learned from the family alone (p. 191). Through schooling, children learn to function in the larger society as adults. They also learn that people can be grouped according to such criteria as age, sex, interest, and level of competencies and be rewarded differently according to actual achievements. In a very real sense, the school is a microcosm of the larger society. As such, the school reproduces and perpetuates the established social, cultural, economic, and political structures and norms. As we will see later, other theories of the role of schooling criticize the functionalist perspective. For this reason, it is useful to examine the functionalist view more closely.

Robert Dreeben (1968), a leading contemporary functionalist, argues that the social experiences available to children in schools are uniquely suited for preparing their transition from life in the family to occupation and life in the larger society. More specifically, children are more likely to learn the fundamental social norms of independence, achievement, universalism, and specificity in school than from their family life (pp. 65-76). "The nature of experiences available in [the family] could not provide conditions appropriate for acquiring those capacities that enable people to participate competently in the public realm" (p. 65). But in school, pupils learn to belong to and interact with different groups wherein their social positions are based on personal accomplishments as judged according to objective criteria.


In school, children learn to accept the need to do certain tasks on their own and the legitimate right of others to expect such independent behavior at various times. Independence means more than "doing things alone"; it includes such notions as self-reliance, accepting responsibility for one's actions, "acting self-sufficiently, and handling tasks with which under different circumstances, one can rightfully expect the help of others" (Dreeben, 1968, p. 66). Classroom characteristics such as the number of other children and teacher expectations of pupil behavior demand that the young become independent. Dreeben points out that whereas parents expect their children to act independently only in certain situations, teachers are much more consistent in requiring their students to behave independently in doing academic work. Various occupations and institutions in the larger society require their members to self-initiate activities to accomplish their assigned tasks and to accept personal responsibility for their own actions. Clearly, schools are much more systematic than families in providing conditions for the development of independent attitudes in the young.


Another important societal norm taught in school is achievement. In our society, independently attract achievements of individuals are prized highly. However, Dreeben (1968) warns, independence and achievement should be distinguished from each other, because "achievement criteria can apply to activities performed collectively" (p. 71). In developing achievement motivation, there is little doubt that the family's child-rearing practices are influential. But schools provide even more significant conditions for cultivating the achievemt-oriented attitude in children. After all, children's positions in school are determined by their personal accomplishments.

Most of what goes on in school is organized in such a way that achievements in curricular and extracurricular activities play a key role will determine the young people's status both in and out of the school environment. In most instances, achievement alternatives are given so that those who do not perform well in one field call do well in another. One student may excel in academic activities but perform poorly in sports; an outstanding athlete may (lo less than mediocre work in academic programs. These young people must learn to deal with both achievement and failure. For example, an individual may be an honor student to one group but just an egghead to another. Similarly, a star quarterback may be seen as nothing more than a jock to those who are not football fans. And what of the youngster whose talents do not fit neatly into any of the school-sanctioned achievement areas? In many ways, schools do provide a greater variety of opportunities for young people to experience achievement than does the family. But schools may also be less effective in helping pupils to protect then- self-esteem in coping with failure.

Universalism and Specificity

Universalism refers to a way in which a person is placed in a particular

group according to a set of standards or common characteristics he or she shares with other members of that group. For example, a student may be considered a member of an honor society because he or she shares such common traits as having an outstanding academic record and recognized leadership qualities. On the other hand, specificity stands for treating an individual in a group as a unique case because he or she possesses certain traits that differ from those shared by other group members. However, a person is treated "particularistically" if given exceptional treatment even though lie or she does not possess special traits as compared with the rest of the group (Dreeben, 1968, p. 75).

To illustrate, universalism requires that all students in one class be treated equally - for example, not allowing anyone to make up an examination. But the norm of specificity makes it possible to permit one student to make up a missed examination because of illness on the day of the test. However, if another student is allowed to make up the test because he or she says flattering things about the instructor's teaching, then that student is treated particularistically. In other words, particularistic treatment of the student is unfair to the rest of the class. Universalism involves categorizing individuals according to common characteristics and equal treatment of everyone in the group. Specificity permits certain exceptions to be made, but only on legitimate grounds. By accepting categorization, children can learn to deal with other individuals in terms of their positions rather than according to their personal identity. In the larger- society, powers and privileges accompany certain social positions. Young people need to understand that individuals exhibit certain behavior when acting in an official capacity and that this behavior stems from the position they occupy rather than their personal rights or privileges. Through the norms of universalism children learn to deal with the criteria of equal treatment, or what is fair and what is unfair.

 School and Society

From the functionalist perspective, "the family, as a social setting with its characteristic social arrangements, lacks the resources and the competence to effect the psychological transition" from life in the family to life in the larger and industrial society (Dreeben, 1968, p. 85). The school is especially well suited for transmitting the four norms of the society because its organizational structure and the behavioral patterns of the school personnel enable the young to have the kinds of experiences not available in other institutions. More specifically, because classrooms are organized according to age or ability, students are able to compare their own successes and failures in learning the norms of independence, achievement, universalism, and specificity with those of their peers. Schooling is effective in socializing the young because its structural organization, the school personal's behavioral patterns, and its values reflect those of the mainstream society.

As Parsons (1985) points out, the school serves not only as an agent of socialization but also as a principal instrument of allocating roles in the society. Hence, those who can come close to the society's shared norms in their work and behavior are likely to be rewarded with higher socioeconomic status than those unable or unwilling to do so (p. 191). He goes on to suggest that there is a general and tacit consensus in our society that individuals should be rewarded differentially for different levels of achievement as long as there has been fair and equal access to opportunity. As might be expected, the school incorporates the ways in which the society rewards its successful members into its operational policies and procedures by placing value both on initial equality aid on differential achievement" (p. 191).

In industrial societies, the positions requiring complex knowledge and skills lead to greater rewards than those roles that demand simpler and, more routine competencies. Because the primary functions of the school are to transmit knowledge, develop special skills, and cultivate attitudes that are consonant with societal norms, the amount of reward (monetary reward and/or status) a person receives depends on the individual's ability in these areas and on his or her level of schooling. Given the nature of the school-society relationship, there are bound to be significant differences among individuals of different socioeconomic classes. For example, more doctors and lawyers occupy the upper classes than the lower classes. The functionalist does not see class differences as due to an inherent superiority of any particular group; rather, they are rooted in the merits of the individual. An individual's success at the highly complex skills of law and medicine is rewarded amply by society, and, thus, he or she earns a high socioeconomic status. This means that the issues concerning equal access to educational, economic, and political opportunities for all people become key concerns in an allegedly meritocractic society such as the United States.

Functionalists would approach educational reform in at least two major ways. The first approach would be to understand the conditions under which young people can acquire the competencies and attitudes necessary to do better in school so that appropriate conditions could be provided for the poor to succeed in school. This strategy is consistent with the functionalist view that higher academic accomplishments in school lead to higher-paying positions. The compensatory education programs that began in the early 1970s are good examples of such an approach. The second way to accomplish educational reform would be to improve our schools by making instruction more effective. Two assumptions underlie this approach. One is the belief that improved teaching leads to academic success, which in turn will result in socioeconomic success. The other is the premise that the school's primary function is to expand students' knowledge and improve their cognitive skills. In the United States, outcomes of the compensatory education programs begun in the 1970s and other school reform measures during the past four decades suggest that these efforts did help certain individuals to move out of lower socioeconomic classes. But no sufficient evidence indicates that educational and economic equality has been assured for all or that significant changes have occurred in the class structure. Furthermore, the validity of the view that success in school is causally related to socioeconomic success remains to be demonstrated.

The Hidden Curriculum

The school as an agent of socialization and role allocation has an "official" curriculum with a set of explicitly stated goals and objectives. These goals and objectives relate to what knowledge and skills ought to be imparted and attitudes developed. The school priorities the learners' motivation for academic success and then- desire to practice the norms and values of the larger society for the established systems of rewards. In additional to the formal curriculum, the school also has an informal set of practices with which the learners are socialized. The expression hidden curriculum refers to the school's indirect means of helping young people learn the norms and values of their society. For example, our schools reinforce punctuality, assertiveness, Self-involvement, and competitiveness by rewarding such acts as turning in assignments on time, expressing one's own opinions, participating in a classroom project, and asking for extra homework for a higher grade. The hidden curriculum has also been referred to as the lived curriculum, emphasizing that these informal sets of practices define the day to-day experiences of students and often assuming a greater importance than the formal, subject matter curriculum.

The hidden curriculum occupies a key position in the functionalist view of schooling, for it is through this informal curriculum that young people learn to adapt themselves to the existing societal values and norms. The ability of the young to work and behave accordingly plays a pivotal role in determining their future social status and economic rewards. But this also means that similar rewards will not be given to individuals whose values and behavioral patterns deviate from the norms sanctioned by the larger society. For this reason, success in school is often correlated with

socioeconomic success, and school failure is frequently viewed as causally responsible for poverty.

The use of the hidden curriculum is not exclusively connected with the functionalist perspective. Regardless of our theoretical perspectives, what children learn is affected by the overall school climate, the administrative styles of the school staff, the nature of the teacher-pupil relationship, and the reaching approaches being used to reinforce or discourage. However, the functionalists are accused of holding an erroneous belief that schools impart the same set of attitudes, values, and norms to all children through the use of the hidden curriculum. Critics point out that instructors apply the hidden curriculum differently according to students' social class status. For example, upper-class children are more likely to be taught such qualities as self-control, leadership, and creativity; lower-class children tend to be instructed to respect authority, comply with instructions, and conform to the dominant norms.

The Technological View of Schooling

There are those who argue that the functionalist view of schooling also embodies what has been called an instrumentalist or technological perspective, which views schooling as a form of technology that can be treated as essentially similar to the process of industrial production. Industrial production begins with a predetermined set of product specification, which then are assembled according to a specified sequence so that the desired product can be manufactured with consistent quality. This process requires a system of quality-control mechanisms that evaluates each unit of the production sequence. The degree of cost efficiency with which each unit can perform its assigned functions then becomes a basis for accountability. An industry is held accountable in terms of (1) how closely the products match the initial set of product specifications and (2) whether the value of the products or outcomes is equivalent to or greater than the resources invested in the production.

When schooling is seen as a form of technology, a learning objective is divided into specific instructional components. These components are then organized according to a predetermined sequence. As students master each component they move up to the next level until they reach the desired learning objectives. This process necessarily involves translating learning objectives in observable and measurable behaviors or competencies. In general, teachers are held accountable on the basis of how well their students have mastered the learning objectives. Hence, frequent and consistent testing is necessary to monitor each learner's progress toward a specific goal. Although the ways in which this process of industrial production is applied to education and schooling vary, the basic principles remain the same. An emphasis on competency-based instruction, quality control, minimum competency testing, accountability, and cost efficiency reflects the influence of the technological perspective in education.

A fundamental shortcoming of the technological view of schooling is that not all worthwhile educational goals can be exhaustively defined in behavioral or performance terms. By putting so much emphasis on what is quantifiable and measurable, we are likely to neglect such important educational goals as creativity, imagination, and appreciation. The technological approach to schooling is not just a matter of doing the same thing more efficiently, because it necessarily demands predetermined goals and tighter and precise control of learning conditions, the learner, and the quantifiable outcomes. If we are serious about making the American school a place where our children can re-create rather than inherit democracy, then it behooves all of us to scrutinize how technology is used and where the concept of technology is to be applied.

Questions About the Functionalist Theory

As we have seen, the functionalists view the role of school, as the process of transmitting the established sociocultural, economic, and political norms so that the young can become productive and contributing members of the society. Hence, the school enables the society to perpetuate itself by reproducing its existing patterns. But should the primary role of schooling be limited to such a reproductive function alone? If we adopt the functionalist perspective, would the school not become a major force in perpetuating the status quo, which makes the rich richer and the poor poorer? How can the school assure equal and fair access to educational and economic Opportunities to all Citizens if it is seen as a primary agent of reproducing the established social order? What can the school do to eliminate or minimize the socioeconomic inequities among different classes of people? Call the school perform special functions to isolate those who belong to lower socioeconomic classes? How should we determine the proper role of schooling? These are some of the questions that need to be asked about the strengths and weaknesses of the functionalist theory. In many ways, the conflict, critical, intei-pretivist, and postmodern theories, which we are about to discuss, are responses to these and other fundamental questions about the proper role of schooling.


Marxist Conflict Theory

According to the advocates of Marxist conflict theory, schools in a capitalistic society do not reproduce the established social system to fulfill the expanding educational needs of increasingly complex positions in modern society. Nor does the school aid individuals to select high-status positions with greater rewards through better education. Quite the contrary, the school functions to serve the interest of the dominant, the powerful, and the wealthy by perpetuating socioeconomic inequities. According to Marxists, who represent a major segment of the conflict theorist group, the private owners of the means of production maintain their domination of the working class by controlling the process of allocating roles, social status, and rewards. Struggles among the classes are bound to ensue as working class people become aware of their low status and seek to gain a greater share of the available wealth. For Marxists, the socioeconomic inequities in a capitalistic society cannot be eliminated unless private ownership of the means of production is invested away from the dominant group by the working class.

Seen from this perspective, schools in a capitalistic society play a central role in enabling the dominant class to maintain the class structure by controlling the kinds of knowledge, skills, and attitudes available to people of different classes. Hence, children of the powerful are educated to self-direct and control others, and working-class youth are taught to conform to the norms of the workplace as prescribed by the dominant group. Educational inequalities are then responsible for maintaining social inequities and the class structure. As two contemporary Marxists, Samuel Bowles and Herbert Gintis (1977), explain:

The social relations of the educational process ordinarily mirror the social relations of the work roles into which most students are likely to move. Differences in rules, expected modes of behavior, and opportunities for choice are most glaring when we compare levels of schooling. Note the wide range of choice over curriculum, life style, and allocation of the afforded to college students, compared with the obedience and respect for authority expected in high school. (p. 142)

Further, the class differences in school are perpetuated through capacity of the upper class to control the basic principles of school finance, pupil evaluation and educational objectives" (142).

Bowles and Gintis go on to argue that differences in intellectual abilities and achievements have very little to do with what status a person is to occupy. They insist that empirical evidence simply does not show that differences in individual IQ scores are significant factors in allocating individuals to different roles in the class structure (pp. 215-225). Because values, personality traits, and class-linked roles are the primary determinants of one's social class, the principle of rewarding academic excellence and the use of cognitive abilities in educational promotion are employed as a way to legitimize the role of schooling as means of making the society more egalitarian. As Apple and Weis (1983) point out, schools "Foster the belief that the major institutions of our society are equally responsive to race, class, and sex," but available data show that "in almost every social arena from health care to anti-inflation policy, the top twenty percent of the population benefit much more than the bottom eighty percent" (pp. 5-6). Schools as agencies of legitimation reflect the social relationship of production as well as "the differences inequities in the social class composition of the student bodies" (Bowles, 1977, pp. 142, 149). But schools not only legitimize the socioeconomic system of the capitalistic society, they legitimize their own existence as well (Apple & Weis, 1983, p. 6). This being the case, educational equality cannot be achieved by simply changing the school system. Only by exposing "the unequal nature of our school system and destroying the illusion of unimpeded mobility through education" can we hope to serve the cause of educational equality (Bowles, 1977, p. 149).

Neo-Marxist Conflict Theory

While proponents of neo-Marxist conflict theory agree that schools in a capitalistic society reproduce and perpetuate social hierarchical classes, they argue that the socioeconomic class structure is not the result of each individual's sole or even primary desire to maximize their rewards. That is, the privileged upper class controls the lower class through the means of noneconomic domination because the student is taught the status culture (e.g., styles of language, manners, values, and so on belonging to a social class or profession) rather than the social relations of production-that is, the roles of owners, managers, and workers of industry.

Drawing from Max Weber's view , Randall Collins (1985) holds that the basic units of society are status groups, associations whose members share common status cultures (i.e, styles of language, conversational topics, manners, opinions and values, and preferences of all sorts as well as a sense of status equality based on participation in a common culture) (p. 71). Collins explains that each status group distinguishes itself from others in terms of such "moral evaluation" as honor, taste, breeding, cultivation, property, and so on. Individuals derive their sense of identity from participation in such cultural groups. From this perspective, the primary role of schooling is to teach status cultures rather than to transmit technical skills and knowledge. In the words of Collins (1985), "schools primarily teach vocabulary and inflection, style of dress, aesthetic tastes, values and manners. The emphasis on sociability and athletics found in many schools is not extraneous but may be at the core of the status culture propagated by the schools" (p. 73). Being schooled is an indication of membership in a particular status group rather than a mark for technical knowledge, skills, or achievements. "Educational requirements may thus reflect the interests of whichever- groups have power to set them" (p. 70). Hence, schooling is used to identify and help "Insiders" to stay in their status culture and discourage "outsiders" front entering a more prestigious status group. This means that the status group system that controls schooling also controls workplaces, and constant struggles for wealth, power, and prestige are carried out through status groups or classes.

There is no disputing the fact that there has been a profound increase in the educational requirements for employment throughout the last century. But there is no consensus regarding the explanation of this fact. For example, the functionalists interpret the increased educational requirements as a consequence of ever-increasing demands for complex knowledge and technological skills for new and better-paying positions. They see a direct connection between more schooling and greater socioeconomic rewards. However, neo-Marxists regard the same increase in educational requirements for employment as the result of three conditions (Collins, 1985, pp. 79-80). The first is that people have viewed education as a means of entering into an elite status culture. Second, political decentralization or separation of church and state has made establishing schools and colleges much easier than in previous years. Third, technical changes have also been responsible for the expansion of education because the rapid industrialization of society has reduced the need for unskilled workers and increased the demand for highly skilled technicians and professionals. Notwithstanding these three conditions, Collins observes:

Once higher levels of education become recognized as an objective mark of elite status, and a moderate level of education as a mark of respectable middle-level status, increases in the supply of educated persons, and previously superior levels become only average. (p. 80)

This meant that high-prestige organizations had to raise their educational requirements to maintain the high status of the upper-level executives and the relative respectability of the middle-level managers.

According to Collins (1979), high-prestige professions discourage vertical occupational mobility by credentialing-requiring credentials such as diplomas, licenses, and certificates for entrance into these positions. Thus, educational requirements and credentialing serve as a major dividing line between high-status occupations, such as managerial positions, and such lower-status 'obs as those in manual labor (pp. 46-47). Moreover, because educational requirements and credentialing are the major sources of socioeconomic inequality, "elimination of educational requirements [including credentializing] for 'obs would be a necessary step in any overall restructuring of the occupational world to produce greater income equality" (p. 202). The abolition of credential is possible if training sequences and rotation of position-related duties are integrated into professional activities. For example, University students could be asked to do secretarial work as part of their education while secretaries could be allowed to receive academic training as part of their work (p. 202). In this way, secretaries can eventually become members of a better-paying occupations Eliminating credentialing would no doubt change the structure of power in our society, but Collins does not expect this radical change to occur in the near future. On the contrary, he anticipates credentialing to expand with a continuing threat of class struggle. Unless we find a means more rational than the use of the educational system-n for controlling our institutions, he warns, our society may "undergo convulsions from forces beyond [our] control, as in the Reformation" (p. 204).

Limitations of Conflict Theory

According to conflict theorists, socioeconomic inequities result from educational inequities in capitalistic society. They maintain that the domination of the lower working class by the wealthy upper class is maintained by having the schools reproduce the hierarchical class structure inherent in capitalist society. Not all conflict theorists agree about how capitalist society perpetuates its class structure. For example, Marxists argue that the class structure is maintained because schools teach social relationships of production. On the other hand, neo-Marxists contend that domination of the lower working class by the wealthy upper class is accomplished through schools teaching status culture to their students.

In spite of the differences already mentioned, both Marxists and neo-Marxists are convinced that the root cause of inequities in capitalist society is the school's reproduction of the hierarchical class structure. They are also persuaded that educational as well as socioeconomic inequities will persist as long, as capitalism continues to exist. Yet when we examine the range of factors related to both educational and social inequities in our society, the Marxist and the neo-Marxist views, even at best, only partially explain the causes of inequities. Social classes of the young alone do not explain how well or poorly children perform in school and work. In addition to social class backgrounds, a myriad of biological, environmental, and psychological factors-and even luck-enter into people's intellectual, social, economic, and political achievements. Moreover, there is no assurance that educational and social inequities would cease to exist if capitalism were abolished, for such inequities persist in societies that no longer allow private ownership of industry.

Whether the responsibility of educating the citizens of a society is left in the hands of schools, community, or workplace, transmitting societal norms and values is inescapable and indispensable. After all, no society can hope to survive without a means of transmitting and perpetuating its fundamental norms. Accordingly, educational institutions, whether formal or informal, are bound to reflect the social structure and norms of the larger society. Moreover, the hidden curriculum serves as an effective indirect means of transmitting the norms and values of capitalist, Marxist, neo-Marxist, socialist, and many other forms of society. For example, assuming that the neo-Marxist explanation of schooling is sound, schools in Marxist or socialist society also will teach status culture. Given such a relationship between education and society, how is genuine educational reform possible? The suggestion by some conflict theorists that we do away with school may be an interesting notion, but it is hardly a plan that can be implemented. Even if we were successful in disestablishing the school, this change would not bring about educational equality, for the children of the poor are simply not as effective as their wealthy counterparts in utilizing educational resources and opportunities.

Critical Theory

Critical theory encompasses a series of theoretical ideas about the course of twentieth-century history that appeared in Germany in the 1920S and 1930s (Held, 1980). Some of the well-known members of this school of thought are Max Horkheimer (1895-1971), Theodore Adorno (I903-1969), Herbert Marcuse (1898-1979), and Jurgen Habermas (b. 1929). Though varied in certain specific aspects, their thoughts, generally categorized as the Frankfurt school, represent an attempt to reevaluate capitalism and the Marxist explanation of class domination and to reformulate the meaning of human emancipation. Because both capitalists and Marxists view schools as agents of socialization, what the critical theorists have to say about how class structure is reproduced and class domination is maintained has significant implications for the role of schooling. In recent years, the thoughts of the Frankfurt School have stimulated Stanley Aronowitz, Paulo Freire, Henry Giroux, and other educational theorists to work toward developing a critical theory of education (Giroux, 1983).

Because critical theorists sided with Max Weber's position (functionalism) rather than the Marxist perspective, a brief discussion of the Weberian notion of rationalization may be helpful in understanding the general thrusts of critical theory. According to Weber (1947), people in preindustrial societies were educated to lead their lives by learning to perform tasks related to their particular positions. But as societies became more industrialized, schools increasingly were required to train individuals for new, specialized roles. Accordingly, modern technological societies moved toward rationalized-that is, institutional organization based on specialized knowledge and skills. The individuals for these roles were selected on the basis of credentials and examinations. Thus, modern society became an organization of specialists and modern government a bureaucracy occupied by experts. This meant that schools had to produce "specialists" rather than "cultivated people." Weber further pointed out that modern schools teach values and norms of the high-prestige positions (i.e., status cultures). Members of the specialist bureaucracy control not only people's lives; they also control schools to maintain their domination over the working class as well as the gender, race, ethnicity, and even age-related gro,,ips. In this way, '"Weber's notion of rationalization leads not to rationality but to technological authoritarianism. Hence, class domination goes beyond economic domination of the working class by the capitalist class. Now, let us examine the ideas of the critical theorists in relation to these Weberian concepts.

Unlike Marxists, the critical theorists of the 1920s and 1930s did not believe that domination of the working class by the capitalist class is achieved by perpetuating the economic class structure alone. Nor did they think that there is only one form of human domination (i.e., economic class domination). For example, in spite of their differences, Horkheimer and Adorno both argued that people's individuality, uniqueness, and creativity would become obliterated by what Adorno called the mass culture. Adorno pointed out that the mass culture involves, TV shows, and even commercials, for example-contains the norms and values of the dominating groups and, as such, distorts reality to perpetuate the ruling group's interests. Consequently, individuals become unable to think critically about themselves or their society.

In a similar vein, Marcuse contended that as modern society becomes a society of technological experts, people with unique individuality are replaced with "one dimensional [people]" who think neither reflectively nor creatively. Horkheimer, Adorno, and Marcuse agreed that the increasing intrusion of the state into people's lives leads to technocratic authoritarianism, which controls citizens' attitudes, behaviors, and thinking. Even critical thinking is defined within the confines of the dominating group's interest. Habermas (1971) maintained that the interests of the dominating class are legitimized and the most vital and indispensable aspects of human life become threatened when the problems of living are defined as issues with which only specialists can deal. Hence, if human beings are to be emancipated from domination by the authoritarianism of experts, we need to reaffirm the need for self-reflection, critical inquiry, and self-understanding. Further, we must "penetrate beyond the level of particular historical class interests to disclose the fundamental interests of mankind as such" (p. 113).

Although Paulo Freire (1985, 1993), a contemporary Brazilian social and educational reformer, is not considered a critical theorist in the strictest sense, he echoes the critical theorist perspective when he argues that there is no single form of class domination. just as society includes divergent types of social relations, it also harbors many different forms of domination and oppression.

The dominated are human beings who have been forbidden to be what they are. They have been exploited, violated, and violently denied the right to exist and the right to express themselves. This is true whether these dominated people represent a unique people, a social group (like homosexuals), a social class, or a particular gender (like women). (Freire, 1985, p. 192)

For Freire, education is more than a process in which the student simply accepts bodies of information provided by the teacher. Education, of which schooling is one part, is a struggle to overcome dominations of all sorts so that each person can grasp the meaning of his or her personal existence and future life. It is the process of self-emancipation. The kind of knowledge that will enable out- young people to emancipate themselves from domination and oppression is not verifiable scientific knowledge. Rather, it is radical knowledge through which the young and the oppressed can learn about the conditions responsible for their dominated and subordinated positions (Freire, 1993, p. 32). Only this kind of radical, or critical, knowledge can help students analyze how the dominant society legitimates Justifies) its norms and values. At the same time, young people can also see the possibility of alternative cultural practices, ways of thinking, and social orders. Such knowledge "would function to help students and others understand what this society has made of them (in a dialectical sense) and what it is they no longer want to be, as well as what it is they need to appropriate critically in order to become knowledgeable about the world in which they live" (Aronowitz & Giroux, 1981, p. 132). Helping students, teachers, and others to acquire critical knowledge as a tool of analysis means helping them to develop critical literacy, which will enable them to raise questions about the nature of knowledge and its Justification, modes of discourse, and school organization that "reduce learning and social practices to narrow technical dimensions" (pp. 132-133).

Giroux (1983) insists that the development of critical literacy is hampered because the values and norms of the dominant social classes are incorporated into school curricula. Hence, the dominant group's cultural practices, modes of thinking and knowing, lifestyles, language patterns, learning and communication styles, and even political principles are transmitted both overtly and insidiously. A fundamental flaw in the traditional approach to schooling is that it stresses knowledge, social practices, and modes of thinking that have been historically handed down to us. What is necessary in schooling is an emphasis on critical literacy skills that will enable students "to recognize what this society has made of them and how it must, in part, be analyzed and reconstituted so that it can generate the conditions for critical reflection and action rather than passivity and indignation" (p. 231).

Schools need to challenge the established practices, institutions, and ways of thinking and conceive new and alternative possibilities. "Teachers and other educators [need] to reject educational theories that reduce schooling either to the domain of learning theory or to forms of technocratic rationality that ignore the central concerns of social change, power relations, and conflicts both within and outside of schools" (Giroux, 1983, p. 62). Only in this way can schools highlight the human potential and struggle and expose the discrepancies between society as it exists and as we envision it (p. 36).

Dilemmas of Critical Theory

As the proponents of critical theory have pointed out, our society contains different forms of domination. More often than not, the many and many varied conditions responsible for human oppression and exploitation are rooted in the social structure and the cultural norms and conditions of the society. Hence, schools as social institutions reflect the conditions that lead to domination. A dilemma of the conflict theorists is that if teachers and other educators are products of schools controlled by the dominating group, how can they help students develop critical literacy to emancipate themselves? One proposal is to do away with schools and place the control of education in the hands of parents and local communities. However, there is no assurance that families and communities will not work toward perpetuating their own class culture, nor is there a guarantee that the powers of the upper class will not nullify the efforts of lower-class families and communities.

Yet another dilemma faces advocates of critical theory. On one hand, Giroux (1984) wants to "develop a real defense of schools as institutions which perform a public service." He also insists that educators work with community groups to develop pockets of cultural resistance and to help students become reflective about their life, status, and society. This means that our universities should produce teachers who can encourage students to analyze the assumptions underlying the existing social order and cultural practices and envision alternative forms of society. In spite of Giroux's idea about how our schools should develop critical literacy among the young, he also argues that we cannot rely on existing schools for radical educational reform to promote emancipatory change. The power of schools to control what can and cannot be debated, the disrespect they have toward the oppressed, and their willingness to act against their opponents simply make them unreliable agents for social change (Giroux, 1984). Now, if, as the critical theorists contend, schools reproduce the dominant ideology, who would educate teachers to become emancipating agents? Insofar as schools cannot escape from the influence of the values and norms of the larger society, the critical theorists' demand that schools help students to question and reject the existing system is tantamount to asking teachers and students to pick themselves up by their own bootstraps.

The Interpretivist Perspective

As we have seen, the functionalists, the conflict theorists, and the advocates of critical theory arrived at their views by analyzing the relationship between education and the structural elements of the social class system. However, advocates of interpretivist theory maintain that an understanding of the relationship between school and society requires an analysis of interactions among students, teachers, administrators, and various peer groups. They urge us to understand the schooling-society relationship by interpreting the meanings of interactive patterns among these groups, curricula, and school achievements. At the same time, we are admonished not to impose our own preconceived philosophical or theoretical framework on our observation of school and society. In their approach to research, the interpretivists attempt to integrate the structural study of society with analytic studies of interactions among students and school personnel, the nature and contents of school curricula, as well as the consequences of direct and hidden approaches to teaching. Consequently, the interprets utilize the findings regarding the linguistic basis of cognition (symbolic interactionism), the role of shared meanings in social situations (ethno-methodology), and the experiential or common-sense views of reality (phenomenology).

According to the interpretivists, social structure consists of a system of class inequality that the family perpetuates by transmitting linguistic codes or patterns of communication to the young (Karabel & Halsey, 1977, p. 63). Thus, although the school is a principal instrument of ‘socialization, it is not the basic agency in which socialization begins. Children learn to play the "game" of living by interpreting the meanings of various rules of behavior, sanctions, lifestyles, and other appropriate norms through speech patterns determined by the family's social position. The child's future class status in society is in turn affected by the communication patterns acquired from the family. Not unexpectedly, the school directly and indirectly expects all children to acquire the dominant linguistic and cultural competencies-those originally produced by families belonging to the dominant class. The lower-class children are required to function according to linguistic and cultural patterns that are alien to them.

The educational system demands of everyone alike that they have what it does not give. This consists mainly of linguistic and cultural competencies and that relationship of familiarity with culture which can only be produced by family upbringing when it transmits the dominant culture. (Bourdieu, 1977, p. 494)

Because the school reproduces the dominant culture, it creates serious discrepancies between what the lower-class children know and the school norm (Bernstein, 1977, p. 483; Bourdieu, 1977, pp. 493-494). It is not surprising that children from lower socioeconomic classes do poorly in school, for they cannot readily develop those dominant linguistic and cultural abilities needed for academic or socioeconomic success.

According to Basil Bernstein (1977), a leading interpretivist, socialization is the process by which the child, a biological being, is made into a specific cultural being. It is a complex process that gives distinctive form and content to the child's cognitive, affective, and moral tendencies (p. 476). Through socialization the child becomes aware of the various orderings of the society and the roles he or she may be expected to play. Bernstein holds that, of many factors, the family's social class has the most formative influence on the child's education and future work. Further, it is the class system that controls the distribution of knowledge in the society so that knowledge and the modes of thinking available to the upper class become inaccessible to lower-class individuals. This control of knowledge "has sealed off communities from each other and has ranked these communities on a scale of invidious worth" (p. 477). For this reason, the communication and behavioral patterns of the lower class are often considered inferior to those of the higher social classes.

Through social control of knowledge, the class system has affected not only the distribution of material wealth but also communication patterns of different social classes. According to Bernstein, communication patterns of working-class children are much more situation specific, or particularistic, and restricted than those of middle- and upper-middle-class children, who are given more elaborated, or universalistic, communication patterns in which meanings are not imbedded in specific local situations. Bernstein (1977) explains that "where [the speech] codes are elaborated, the socialized has more access to the grounds of his own socialization.... [However,] where the codes are restricted, the socialized has less access to the grounds of his socialization" (p. 478). In other words, individuals with universalistic, elaborated communication patterns are able to respond more flexibly to new and different social situations than those who have particularistic and restricted speech patterns.

The particularistic and restricted nature of the lower-class communication patterns becomes a barrier for working-class children in dealing with situations that go beyond their social class experiences. Further, these children are less able to handle abstract thoughts and generalizations. Socioeconomic inequities in society are maintained because families reproduce the communication patterns and speech codes that are specifically connected with their social status. In addition, higher-status positions require those communication patterns that are reproduced by families belonging to the dominant class. These conditions leading to societal inequities are exacerbated by the fact that schools consider only the universalistic, elaborated

communication patterns as acceptable norms. Moreover, they view any pattern that deviates from the dominant norms as "devalued, and humiliated within schools or seem, at best to be irrelevant to the educational endeavor" (p. 484).

Bernstein asserts that the school is primarily interested in transmitting universalistic speech codes. Hence serious discrepancies are bound to arise between what the school attempts to accomplish and the communication patterns of the lower-class children. Accordingly, if we are to reduce the amount of social inequities in society, the school must purge all built-in class biases from its curriculum and pedagogy and its conception of educability. Moreover, the school should not try to get lower-class families to provide their children with linguistic and cultural knowledge and skills that these families do not possess. Rather, the school should focus on how it can help these children bridge the gap between their own skills and those that the larger society demands within the context of schooling.

Limitations of the Interpretivist Theory

Interpreting the meanings of various interactive relationships among students, school personnel, the curriculum, and pedagogy is essential in understanding the role of schooling, for schooling occurs among people irradiated by curriculum and instruction. The use of this approach in studying the school-society relationship requires that we become participant-observers, just as ethnographers study an alien culture by living in it, One of the difficulties with this ethno-methodological approach is that when the investigator becomes involved in the process or event being studied, the degree of involvement may easily affect the outcome of the study. In addition, because the investigator's focus is on interactions among people and various aspects of the school, not enough attention is paid to the influences of the larger social, political, and economic contexts in which individuals function. For, these reasons, the interpretivists are often criticized for not having conducted enough rigorous empirical studies to support their claims with hard evidence. This criticism raises further questions about the nature of the critical interpretivists use to determine the soundness of their claims.

Another limitation of interpretivism is that although this theory offers an insightful description of the class system and its impact on social inequities, it does not provide a viable plan to resolve class conflicts. Nor does it offer realistic plans to eliminate or even substantially reduce social inequities in society.

Postmodern Perspectives

Undergirding the functionalist, conflict, critical, and interpretivist perspectives are modernist assumptions. Key among these is the idea that social phenomena are characterized by fixed structures and systematic underlying relationships. So, for example, we cannot understand a teacher's activity without examining how that fits together with broader aspects of schooling and society such as the expectations of the curriculum, the social class of the students, and the bureaucracy. From the modernist perspective these relationships are regular and predictable. It is possible to these systemic relationships and thereby understand the social world. Modernism in its functionalist form places great emphasis on the rationalization of the social world. That is, through the establishment of clear, objective procedures and through efficient, unbiased management, social institutions can fairly serve all people in its functionalist and critical forms, the modernist perspective places great faith In the human ability to

control humankind's future and to shape a better world.

Postmodernism/poststructuralism calls these assumptions into question. Poststructuralism, in its contemporary forms, is rooted in the writings of Michel Foucault (1972) and Jacques Derrida (1972). Foucault is interested in the ways in which social and political Institutions produce and reproduce ideas about truth and knowledge. Derrida challenges the idea that meaning is fixed. Meaning is only fixed through a consensus of readers and will change, or shift, over time. From the postmodernist perspective, what has passed for reason and objective knowledge has in fact been the knowledge, norms, and expectations of those in power. What has been seen as objective truth is defined by postmodernists as a master narrative in which those who hold power determine what passes for knowledge. Henry Giroux (1993) describes the postmodern perspective succinctly:

Postmodernism rejects a notion of reason that is disinterested, transcendent and universal. Rather than separating reason from the terrain of history, race and desire, postmodernist argues that reason and science can only be understood as part of a broader historical, political and social struggle on the relationships between language and powers (p. 53)

Western culture has defined a privileged canon, a body of literature and ideas that is seen as true and good. This canon has ignored the voices and ideas of those with little or no power. The writing and thinking of the oppressed and the poor, for example were not been seen generally as having equal power with the voices of the dominant Culture. Postmodernist argue for the need for multiple narratives. Rather than one way of knowing and understanding, there are many. Subordinated and excluded groups are given voice and opportunity to discover their worlds and histories.

Postmodernist further argue that it is necessary to examine or deconstruct meanings that we tend to take for granted. That is, language is not simply a medium for transmitting ideas and meaning; it is, in fact a reflection of existing power structures. Rather than being value-neutral and fixed, meanings are constructed and reconstructured as society and social structures change.

Some people speak with authority, while others listen as consumers, because power infiltrates the language we inherit; the meanings of our words, utterances, and discourses; and the institutions and practices that shape their use (Cherryholmes, 1988, p. 50).

For postmodernist, the purpose of education is not to perpetuate the social, political, and economic interests of the few. Rather, it should transform society and empower the marginalized and the oppressed to develop their own personal and social identity based on an understanding of the "whys" of their own status and cultural difference. Not surprisingly, post-modernists seek to deal with problems and issues in society in an integrated way rather than following the lines of discrete and established academic disciplines. Regarding the use of textbooks and knowledge, they point out that these books generally introduce key words with their definitions and examples. Rarely do they indicate that there is likely to be more than one definition. The word identity, for example, is likely to have several different meanings and particularly different meanings in different cultures. Further, textbooks make authoritative claims about what is and is not knowledge, with little indication that the claim is controversial or contested. Textbooks determine what knowledge is important or not important by what they include and what they leave out.

Critiques of Postmodernism/Poststructuralism

Postmodernism raises many important questions about what counts as knowledge and whose voice gets heard in the construction of knowledge. It has been criticized for the very questions it raises. Does the postmortem invitation to open tip the curriculum to multiple voices and perspectives threaten the cohesion of out- society? Even those who agree that there is a need to analyze the power assumptions embedded in the curriculum question the postmortem critique, which sees the struggle for democracy as based on a politics of difference and power rather than on deliberation and reason (Giroux, 1993, p.48).

Postmodernism is not a single unified theory. Rather, it is more like a mood or frame of mind (Noddings, 1995, p. 72; Ozmon & Cravei- 1999, p. 361). Its subscribers reject the possibility of a universal truth and a single fixed way of knowing. While postmodernist emphasize the importance of allowing cultural diversity, transforming society to establish pluralistic democracy, and helping the oppressed to form their own identity, the difficult and esoteric nature of then- language makes us wonder about how well the marginalized as well as the general public understand their message. Further, their views about expected educational outcomes are more abstract and global than concrete and specific. As Ozmon and Craver point out, postmodernist seem to be more conscious of what they oppose than what they promote; this is revealed in the lack of attention to the some-times overwhelmingly negative tone of their delivery" (Ozmon & Craver, 1999,I). 371).

A Review and Critical Estimate of the Five Perspectives

Before we discuss a critical estimate of the five perspectives, it may be useful to briefly review these ideas because, in spite of their differences, they contain several overlapping views.

A Review

As we have already seen, advocates of the structural/functionalist theory believe that as a social system the school is an integral part of society. A central role of the school is to pass on the cultural norms of the society to the young so that they can function effectively. Through schooling and other means of education the society is able to maintain social order and perpetuate itself. Critics argue that schools transform culture for the purpose of "helping Students meet the institutional requirements of their credential (McNeil, 1986, p. 13). McNeil explains that schools transform culture into pieces of school knowledge and units of courses and sequences that conform to the school's bureaucratic processes. She goes on to say that after being processed through worksheets, list-filled lectures and short answer tests, the Cultural content ... Comes to Serve only the interests of institutional efficiencies. its forms may have some utility but its substance has been depleted. (p. 13)

Unlike the functionalists, those who assume a critical perspective take a critical stance toward the status quo of schooling. Conflict theorists argue that the school is an instrument of domination used by those in power to preserve and extend the existing social order. This practice results in an inequitable distribution of wealth, power, and educational opportunities. A new social structure emerges from struggles between the poor and the rich to achieve a more egalitarian distribution of wealth and power. According to critical theorists, there is a genuine need to reconsider the meanings of domination and emancipation because people can be dominated through learning the kind of knowledge, culture, and history that legitimize domination and reinforce the roles of the subjugated. We need to "break the grip of all closed systems of thought and to counter an unreflected affirmation of society" (Thompson & field, 1982, p. 2). Our reflection about domination must "penetrate beyond the level of particular historical class interests to disclose the fundamental interests of mankind as such" (Habermas, 1971, p. 113). Educationally, schools must help their students learn modes of inquiry, knowledge, and skills to enable them to think critically about how their society may have shaped their positions and prevented them from realizing goals that go beyond the prescribed status. Through such schooling the young should be able to "affirm and reject the' own histories in order to begin the process of struggling for the conditions that will give them opportunities to lead a self-managed existence" (Giroux, 1983, p. 3 8).

The functionalist and critical perspectives seek to understand the role of schooling based on analyses of the relationship between schools as structural aspects of society and society. But is it possible to adequately understand human society without having sound knowledge regarding human behavior? Interpretivists note that to gain such knowledge, we need to examine the norms with in which people interpret their experiences and other events in life by assigning significance and values to them. If we grant that culture consists of a system of norms for ascribing meanings and importance to the events in individuals' lives, then those who live in the same culture will tend to give generally similar interpretations to various occurrences. Variations in interpretations are still possible because of the differences in personal experiences and socioeconomic class. In educational terms, the interpretivists are interested in analyzing interactions among students and various school personnel. To these theorists, student behavior cannot be understood unless we know about their goals and the norms that guide school activities. Children learn the rules and standards that determine their roles and status In school. Hence, schools should evaluate the effects of class bias in reaching, curriculum, and other school-related activities.

The postmodern perspective argues against efforts to strive toward objectivity. What has been defined as school knowledge, as universal and true, has in fact been defined by those in power. From a postmodern perspective, it is necessary to deconstruct both those power relationships and the canon of knowledge that has emerged from them. Only by seeing knowledge and language within historically constructed contexts can we begin to know. Only by attending to diverse voices can we really begin to understand the world and our lived experiences within it.

A Critical Estimate

These perspectives toward the role of schooling represent fine interpretations of the same educational and sociocultural processes found in all human societies. Each of the five perspectives attempts to explain the relationship among schooling, culture, and social structure and proposes different educational measures to make human society more egalitarian. As important as these theories are in helping us analyze the relationship between school and society and class structure and social inequities, all of the theories leave certain aspects of social reality unexplained. For example, social inequities continue to exist in socialistic or Marxist societies. At the same time, educational opportunities are accessible to many more groups of people in the United States than in other capitalistic or even noncapitalistic countries. In the area of their proposed programs for social change and educational reforms, they are intellectually compelling but practically not achievable. In fact, hardly any of the measures proposed by those who hold a critical, interpretivist, or postmodern perspective have had significant impact on how schools are run and children are educated.

At least two possible reasons explain why these theories have had little direct influence on how children are educated. One is that the relationship among education, schooling, and social stratification is extremely complex and multidimensional. Any reform programs based on a theory that is rooted in a single concept - for example, class domination or transmission of communication patterns will inevitably be inadequate. The impact of such measures will be limited if not superficial. What is needed is the development of a multi disciplinary theory of education that utilizes the findings and methods of a wide range of biological, physical, and social sciences as well as our lived experiences. This does not suggest that these five theories should be discarded, for they do provide insight into certain aspects of the relationship among schooling, culture, and society.

Second, the failure of educational theorists to make a genuine difference in the actual business of educating people may be attributable in large part to the fact that the theorists are outside of the world of educational politics. The theorists become "outsiders" because they are preoccupied with de-,,eloping and reproducing their own unique languages, which are 'able to those who do not belong to the same intellectual "class." not accessible.

For example, if the object of critical theory is to "change the world," why "should it describe itself in a language inaccessible to all but a few" (Noddings, 1995)? Since educational politicians and practitioners have their own ordering of meanings that are not open to the theorists, the theorists have very little, if any, power to affect educational establishments and their practices. For the theoretical ideas to make any difference at all, the theorists must become more actively involved in political movements of the larger educational community. Perhaps they should take seriously the following admonition:

If one is concerned to establish a more human society, then he ought to work to establish that society in the very places where people live and work. If one is intent on having man's work and his machines serve real human needs, then he ought to see to it that a man's work serves his human need and not assume this to be an inevitable by-product of letting talent rise to the top. Aid if it is believed that the requirements of technology and the nature of work are destroying the humanizing and educative functions of the family and the community, then one should reexamine the requirements of technology and the nature of work. (Feinberg, 1975)


A Tale of Two Moralities: Peter Berger

MANUELA keeps dreaming about the village. She does not think about it very much in the daytime. Even when she thinks about Mexico, it is not usually about the village. In any case, during the day it is the brash, gleaming reality of California that dominates, its loud demand for full attention pushing into the background the old images and feelings. It is at night that the village comes back, reclaiming its power over Manuela. It is then as if she had never left it - or worse, as if she must inevitably return to it.

It is often very hot in the village, though at night one may freeze. The earth is dry. Time moves very slowly, as the white clouds move through the brightly blue sky over the brown and arid hills. Times moves slowly in the faces of the people too, and the faces too are brown and arid. Even the faces of the very young seem to hold old memories. The children do not smile easily. The day is measured by the halting motion of shadows over houses and trees. The years are mostly measured by calamities. The past is powerfully present, although there are few words for it. No one in the village speaks an Indian language, though everyone has Indian blood. Can the blood speak, without words? Do the dead speak from the earth? Somewhere in this blue sky and in these brown hills there are very old presences, more threatening than consoling. Some years ago the schoolteacher dug up some Indian artifacts and wanted to take them to the city, to sell them to a museum. Calamity struck at once, all over the village. The dead do not want to be disturbed, and they are dangerous.

The village is distant. Distant from what? Distant from everything, but most importantly distant from the places where time moves quickly and purposefully. There is no paved road, no telephone, no electricity. Even the schoolteacher only comes on two days of the week. He has two other villages to take care of, and he lives somewhere else. To get to the nearest bus station one rides on a donkey for three hours over footpaths of trampled dirt. Time and distance determine the world of the village, in fact and in Manuela's dreams. If she were to put it in one sentence, this world, she would have to say: It is very far away, and life there moves very slowly. On the maps the village is in the state of Guerrero, in a very specific location between Mexico City and the Pacific Ocean. In Manuela's dreams the village is located in the center of her self, deep down inside rather than out there somewhere.

Manuela was born in the village twenty-two years ago. Her mother died shortly afterward. Her father, already married to another woman with seven legitimate children, never acknowledged Manuela. Indeed, be has never spoken with her. She was raised by one of her mother's brothers, a man without land and much of the time without work, with a large family of his own that he barely managed to support. There was never any question about the family obligation to take care of Manuela; the only question at the time, lengthily discussed by her grandfather and the three uncles still living in the area, was which of the three would take the baby in. But this obligation did not greatly exceed supplying the bare necessities of life. There was never the slightest doubt about Manuel's status in her uncle's household as the unwanted bastard who took the food out of the mouths of her more deserving cousins- and she was told so in no uncertain terms on many occasions. If there was little food, she would be the hungriest. If there was hard work, she would be the one to do it. This does not mean that she received no affection. She was a very pretty, winsome child, and often people were kind to her. But she always knew that affection and kindness were not her right, were given to her gratuitously- and, by the same token, could be gratuitously taken away. As a child Manuela wished for someone who would love her all the time, reliably, "officially." However, she was only dimly unhappy in her uncle's household, since she knew nothing else. She was often hungry, sometimes beaten. She did not have shoes until her tenth birthday, when her grandfather made her a present of a pair. This was also the first occasion when she went outside the village, accompanying her grandfather on a visit to the doctor in the nearest town.

Her grandfather and one of her uncles in the village were ejidatarios, belonging to the minority that owned parcels of land under the village elido (agricultural cooperative). Most of the time the uncle with whom she stayed worked on this land, too, though be would hire himself out for work elsewhere when there was an opportunity. When she was not working in the house or taking' care of her little cousins, Manuela also worked in the fields or with the animals belonging to her family. After her tenth birthday she sometimes worked for outsiders, but she was expected to turn over the money she received for this. Sometimes she succeeded in keeping a few coins for herself, though she knew that she would be beaten if found out. She was allowed to school and, being very bright, she learned to read and write well. It was her brightness that attracted her grandfather, who was amused by her and took a liking to her (much to the annoyance of her cousins).

"Bad blood will show." "You will come to no good end. Like your mother." Manuela must have heard this hundreds of times during her childhood. The prophecy was fulfilled when she was fifteen and made pregnant by the secretary of eiido, one of the most affluent farmers in the village. When her condition could no longer be concealed, there was a terrible scene and her uncle threw her out of the house. Her grandfather, after slapping her a couple of times but mildly, gave her the address of an aunt in Acapulco and enough money to pay her busefare there. It was thus that she left the village.

Manuela, marveled at Acapulco and its astonishing sights, but needless to say, she lived there in a world far removed from that experienced by the tourists. Her Aunt, a gentle widow with two children and a maid's job in one of the big hotels, took Manuela in a very warmly (at least in part because she could use some help in the house). Manuela's baby was born there, a healthy boy whom she named Roberto. Not much later, Manuela also started to work outside the house.

A Mexican campestino, when he migrates, normally follows an itinerary taken before him by relatives and compadres. When he arrives, the latter provide an often intricate net-work of contacts that are indispensable for his adjustment to the new situation. They will provide initial housing, they can give information and advice, and, Perhaps most important, they serve is in informal labor exchange. Such a network awaited Manuela in Acapulco. In addition to the aunt she was staying with, there were two more aunts and an uncle with their respective families, including some twelve cousins of all ages. This family system, of course was transposed to the city from the village, but it took on a quite different character in the new context. Freed from the oppressive constraints of village life, the system, on the whole, was more benign. Manuela experience it as such. Several of her cousins took turns taking care of little Roberto when Manuela started to work. Her aunt's "fiancee" (a somewhat euphemistic term), who was head clerk in the linen supply department of the hotel, found Manuela a job in his department. The uncle, through a compadre who was head waiter to another hotel, helped her get a job there as a waitress. It was this uncle, incidentally, who had gone further than any other member of the Acapulco clan, at least for a brief time, an intelligent and aggressive man, he worked himself up in the municipal sanitation department to the rank of inspector. Through a coup, the details of which were shrouded in mystery, but which were safely assumed by everyone to involve fragility of heroic proportions, Uncle Pepe amassed the equivalent of about one thousand U.S. dollars in a few months time, a staggering sum in this ambience. With thus money, he set out for Mexico City, ostensibly to look into a business proposition. In fact he checked into one of the capitals finest hotels, made the rounds of nightclubs and luxury brothels, and returned penniless but not overly unhappy a month later. The clan has viewed him with considerable awe ever since.

Manuela now had a fairly steady cash income, modest to be sure, but enough to keep going. This does not mean, however, that she could keep all of it for herself and her child. The family system operated as a social insurance agency as well as a labor exchange, ind there was never a shortage of claimants. An Aunt required in operation. An older cousin set up business as a mechanic and needed some capital to start off. Another cousin was arrested and a substantial mordida was required to bribe his way out of jail. And then there were always new calamities back in the village, requiring emergency transfers of money back there. Not least among them was the chronic calamity of grandfather's kidney ailment, which consumed large quantities of family funds in expensive and generally futile medical treatments.

Sometimes, at the hotel, Manuela did baby-sitting for tourists with children. It was thus that she met the couple from California. They stayed in Acapulco for a whole month, and soon Manuela took care of their little girl almost daily. When they left the woman asked Manuela whether she wanted a job as a maid in the States. "Yes," replied Manuela at once, without thinking. The arrangements were made quickly. Roberto was put up with a cousin. Uncle Pepe, through two trusted intermediaries, arranged for Manuela to cross the border illegally. Within a month she arrived at the couples address in California.

And now she his been here for over a year. California was even more astonishing than Acapulco had been when she first left the village, but now she had more time to explore this new world. She learned English in a s hort time, and in the company of a Cuban girl who worked for a neighbor, she started forays into the American universe, in ever-wider circles from her employers' house. She even took bus trips to Hollywood and San Francisco. For the first time in her life, she slept in a room all by herself. And despite her regular payments for Roberto's keep, she started to save money and put it in a bank account. Most important, when started to think about her life in a new way, systematically. "What will become of you when you go back?" asked the American woman one day. Manuela did not know then, but she started to think. Carmelita, the Cuban girl, discussed the matter with her many times - in exchange for equal attention paid to her own planning exercises. Eventually, one project won out over all the alternatives: Manuela would return to go to commercial school, to become a bilingual secretary. She even started a typing course in California. But she would not return to Acapulco. She knew that, to succeed, she would have to remove herself from the family there. She would go to Mexico City, first alone, and then she would send for Roberto.

This last decision was made gradually. It was the letters that did it. Manuela, some months before, had mentioned the amount of money she had saved (a very large amount, by her standards, and enough to keep her and Roberto afloat for the duration of the commercial course). Then the letters started coming from just about everyone in the Acapulco clan. Most of the contents were family gossip, inquiries about Manuela's life in the States, and long expressions of affectionate feelings. There were frequent reminders not to forget her relatives, who took such good care of Roberto. Only gradually did the economic infrastructure emerge from this. There was to be a fiesta at the wedding of a cousin, and could Manuela make a small contribution. The cousin who had been in jail was still to be tried and there were lawyer's expenses. Uncle Pepe was onto the most promising business opportunity of his "long and distinguished career in financial activities" (his own words) and just three hundred American dollars would make it possible for him to avail himself of this never-to-recur opportunity - needless to say, Manuela would be a full partner upon her return. Finally, there was even a formal letter from grandfather, all the way from the village, containing an appeal for funds to pay for a trip to the capital so as to take advantage of a new treatment that a famous doctor had developed there. It took a while for Manuela to grasp that every dollar of her savings had already been mentally spent by her relatives.

The choice before Manuela now is sharp and crystal clear: She must return to Mexico - because she wants to, because of Roberto, and because the American authorities would send her back sooner or later anyway. She can then return to the welcoming bosom of the family system, surrender her savings, and return to her previous way of life. Or she can carry through her plan in the face of family opposition. The choice is not only between two courses of action, but between two moralities. The first course is dictated by the morality of collective solidarity, the second by the morality of personal autonomy and advancement. Each morality condemns the other - as uncaring selfishness in the former case as irresponsible disregard of her own potential and the welfare of her son in the latter. Poor Manuela's conscience is divided; by now she is capable of feeling its pangs either way.

She is in America, not in Mexico, and the new morality gets more support from her immediate surroundings. Carmelita is all for the plan, and so are most of the Spanish-speaking girls with whom Manuela has been going out. Only one, another Mexican, expressed doubt: "I don't know. Your grandfather is ill, and your uncle helped you a lot in the past. Can you just forget them? I think that one must always help one's relatives." Manuela once talked about the matter with the American woman. "Nonsense", said the latter, "You should go ahead with your plan. You owe it to yourself and to your son." So this is what Manuela intends to do, very soon now. But she is not at ease with the decision. Every time another letter arrives form Mexico, she hesitates before opening it, and she fortifies herself against the appeals she knows to be there.

Each decision, as dictated by the respective morality, has predictable consequences: If Manuela follows the old morality, she will, in all likelihood, never raise herself or her sone above the level she achieved in Acapulco - not quite at the bottom of the social scale, but not very far above it. If, on the other hand, she decide in accordance with the new morality (new for her, that is), she has at least a chance of making it up one important step on that scale. Her son will benefit form this, but probably no other of her relatives will. To take that step she must, literally, hack off all those hands that would hold her back. It is a grim choice indeed.

What will Manuela do? She will probably at least start out on her plan. Perhaps she will succeed. Bu once she is back in Mexico, the tentacles of the old solidarity will be more powerful. They will pull more strongly. It will be harder to escape than other village, the village of the mind within herself. The outcome of the struggle will decide whether the village will be Manuela's past or also her future. Outside observers should think very carefully indeed before they take sides in this contest.

Manuela's story is fiction, made up as a composite from several true stories. Manuela does not exist. But many Manuela do exist, not only in Mexico, but all over the Third World. Their moral dilemma must be understood if one is to understand "development."

Copyright (c) 1988 by Peter Berger

Pyramids of Sacrifice: Political Ethics and Social Change

Anchor Books: Garden City, New York (1976)

Eating Christmas in the Kalahari by Richard Borshay Lee

EDITOR'S NOTE: The !Kung and other Bushmen speak click languages. In the story, three different clicks are used.-

1. The dental click 0, as in lailai, lontah, and Igaugo. The click is sometimes written in English as tsk-tsk.

2. The alveopalatal click (!), as in Benla and !Kung.

3. The lateralclick (//), as in ll gom. Clicks function as consonants; a word may have more than one, as in In!au.

The !Kung Bushmen's knowledge of Christmas is thirdhand. The London Missionary Society brought the holiday to the southern Tswana tribes in the early nineteenth century. Later, native catechists spread the idea far and wide among the Bantu-speaking pastorales, even in the most remote corners of the Kalahari Desert. The Bushmen's idea of the Christmas story, stripped to its essentials, is "Praise the birth of white man's god-chief; what keeps their interest in the holiday high is the Tswana-Herero custom of slaughtering an ox for his Bushmen neighbors as an annual goodwill gesture. Since the 1930s, part of the Bushmen's annual round of activities has included a December congregation at the cattle posts for trading, marriage brokering, and several days of trance-dance feasting at which the local Tswana headman is host.

As a social anthropologist working with !Kung Bushmen, I found that the Christmas ox custom suited my purposes. I had come to the Kalahari to study the hunting and gathering subsistence economy of the! Kung, and to accomplish this it was essential not to provide them with food, share my own food, or interfere in anyway with their food-gathering activities while liberal handouts of tobacco and medical supplies were appreciated, they were scarcely adequate to erase the glaring disparity in wealth between the anthropologist, who maintained a two-month inventory of canned goods, and the Bushmen, who rarely had a day's supply of food on hand. My approach, while paying off in terms of data, left me open to frequent accusations of stinginess and hard-heartedness. By their lights, I was a miser.

The Christmas ox was to be my way of saying thank you for the cooperation of the past year; and since it was to be our last Christmas in the field, I determined to slaughter the largest, meatiest ox that money could buy, insuring that the feast and trance-dance would be a success.

Through December I kept my eyes open at the wells as the cattle were brought down for watering. Several animals were offered, but none had quite the grossness that I had in mind. Then, ten days before the holiday, a Herero friend led an ox of astonishing size and mass up our camp. It was solid black, stood five feet high at the shoulder, had a five-foot span of horns, and must have weighed 1,200 pounds on the hoof. Food consumption calculations are my specialty, and I quickly figured that bones and viscera aside, there was enough meat -at least four pounds - for every man, woman, and child of the 150 Bushmen in the vicinity of /ai/ai who were expected at the feast.

Having found the right animal at last, I paid the Herero L2O ($56) and asked him to keep the beast with his herd until Christmas day. The next morning word spread among the people that the big solid black one was the ox chosen by/ontah (my Bushman name; it means, roughly, whitey) for the Christmas feast. That afternoon I received the first delegation. Ben!a, an outspoken sixty-year-old mother of five, came to the point slowly.

"Where were you planning to eat Christmas?' "Right here at /ai/ai,' I replied. "Alone or with others?"

"I expect to invite all the people to eat Christmas with me.' 'Eat what?' "I have purchased Yehave's black ox, and I am going to slaughter and cook it." 'That's what we were told at the well but refused to believe it until we heard it from yourself" "Well, it's the black one," I replied expansively, although wondering what she was driving at. 'Oh, no!' Ben!a groaned, turning to her group. 'They were right.' Turning back to me she asked, "Do you expect us to eat that bag of bones?" "Bag of bones! it's the biggest ox at /ai/ai.' "Big, yes, but old. And thin. Everybody knows there's no meat on that old ox. What did you expect us to eat off it, the horns?" Everybody chuckled at Ben!alsone-liner as they walked away, but all I could manage was a weak grin.

That evening it was the turn of the young men. They came to sit at our evening fire. /gaugo, about my age, spoke to me man-to-man. "/ontah, you have always been square with us," he lied. "What has happened to change your heart? That sack of guts and bones of Yehave's will hardly feed one camp, let alone all the Bushmen around/ai/ai.'And he proceeded to enumerate the seven camps in the/ai/ai vicinity, family by family. "Perhaps you have forgotten that we are not few, but many. Or are you too blind to tell the difference between a proper cow and an old wreck? That ox is thin to the point of death."

'Look, you guys,' I retorted, my that is a beautiful animal, and I'm sure you will eat it with' Pleasure at Christmas." 'Of course we will eat it; it's food. But it won't fill us up to the point where we will have enough strength to dance. we will eat and go home to bed with stomachs rumbling."

That night as we turned in, I asked my wife, Nancy: "What did you think of the black ox?" It looked enormous to me. Why?' Well, about eight different people have told me I got gypped; that the ox is nothing but bones." "What's the angle?" Nancy asked. "Did they have a better one to sell?"

"No, they just said that it was going to be a grim Christmas because there won't be enough meat to go around. maybe I'll I get an independent judge to look at the beast in the morning. Bright and early, Halingisi, a Tswana cattle owner, appeared at our camp. But before I could ask him to give me his opinion on Yehave's black ox, he gave me the eye signal that indicated a confidential chat. we left the camp and sat down.

"/ontah, I'm surprised at you: you've lived here for three years and still haven't learned anything about cattle." "But what else can a person do but choose the biggest, strongest animal one can find?" I retorted. "Look ,just because an animal is big doesn't mean that it has plenty of meat on it. The black one was a beauty when it was younger, but now it is thin to the point of death."

"Well I've already bought it. what can I do at this stage?" "Bought it already? I thought you were just considering it. Well, you'll have to kill it and serve it, I suppose. But don't expect much of a dance to follow."

My spirits dropped rapidly. I could believe that Ben!a and/gaugojust might be putting me on about the black ox, but Halingisi seemed to be an impartial critic. I went around that day feeling as though I had bought a lemon of a used car.

In the afternoon it was to Tomazo'sturn. Tomazo is a fine hunter, a top trance performer (see "The Trance Cure of the! Kung Bushmen,' Natural History, November, 1967), and one of my most reliable informants. He approached the subject of the Christmas cow as part of my continuing Bushmen education.

'My friend, the way it is with us Bushmen," he began, "is that we love meat. And even more than that, we love fat. When we hunt we always search for the fat ones, the ones dripping with layers of white fat: fat that turns into a clear, thick oil in the cooking pot, fat that slides down your gullet, fills your stomach and gives you a roaring diarrhea," he rhapsodized.

"So, feeling as we do," he continued, "it gives us pain to be served such a scrawny thing as Yehave's black ox. it is big, yes, and no doubt its giant bones are good for soup, but fat is what we really crave and so we will eat Christmas this year with a heavy heart.

The prospect of a gloomy Christmas now had me worried, so I asked Tomazo what I could do about it. "Look for a fat one, a young one ... smaller, but fat. Fat enough to make us //gom (evacuate the bowels'), then we will be happy."

My suspicions were aroused when Tomazo said that he happened to know of a young, fat, barren cow that the owner was willing to part with. Was Toma working on commission, I wondered? But I dispelled this unworthy thought when we approached the Herero owner of the cow in question and found that he had decided not to sell.

The scrawny wreck of a Christmas ox now became the talk of the /ai/ai water hole and was the first news told to the outlying groups as they began to come in from the bush for the feast. What finally convinced me that real trouble might be brewing as the visit from u!au, an old conservative with a reputation for fierceness. His nickname meant spear and referred to an incident thirty years ago in which he had speared a man to death. He had an intense manner; fixing me with his eyes, he said in clipped tones:

"I have only just heard about the black ox today, or else I would have come here earlier. /ontah, do you honestly think you can serve meat like that to people and avoid a fight?" He

paused, letting the implications sink in. "I don't mean fight you, /ontah; you are a white man. I mean a fight between Bushmen. There are many fierce ones here, and with such a small quantity of meat to distribute, how can you give everybody a fair share? Someone is sure to accuse another of taking too much or hogging all the choice pieces. Then you will see what happens when some go hungry while others eat.

The possibility of at least serious argument struck me as all too real. I had witnessed the tension that surrounds the distribution of meat from a kudu or gemsbok kill, and had documented many arguments that sprang up from a real or imagined slight in meat distribution. The owners of a kill may spend up to two hours arranging and rearranging the piles of meat under the gaze of a circle of recipients before handing them out. And I also knew that the Christmas feast at /ai/ai would be bringing together groups that had feuded in the past. Convinced now of the gravity of the situation, I went in earnest to search for a second cow; but all my inquiries failed to turn one up.

The Christmas feast was evidently going to be a disaster, and the incessant complaints about the meagerness of the ox had already taken the fun out of it for me. Moreover, l was getting bored with the wisecracks, and after losing my temper a few times, I resolved to serve the beast anyway. if the meat fell short, the hell with it. In the Bushmen idiom, I announced to all who would listen:

"I am a poor man and blind. if I have chosen one that is too old and too thin, we will eat it anyway and see if there is enough meat there to quiet the rumbling of our stomachs."

On hearing this speech, Benia offered me a rare word of comfort. 'Its thin,' she said

philosophically, about the bones will make a good soup."

At dawn Christmas morning, instinct told me to turn over the butchering and cooking to a friend and take off with Nancy to spend Christmas alone in the bush. But curiosity kept me from retreating. I wanted to see what such a scrawny ox looked like on butchering, and if there was going to be a fight, I wanted to catch every word of it. Anthropologists are incurable that way.

The great beast was driven up to our dancing group, and a shot in the forehead dropped it in its tracks. Then, freshly cut branches were heaped around the fallen carcass to receive the meat. Ten men volunteered to help with the cutting. I asked /gaugoto make the breast bone cut. This cut, which begins the -butchering process for most large game, offers easy access for removal of the viscera. But it also allows the hunter to spot-check the amount of fat on the animal. A fat game animal carries a white layer up to an inch thick on the chest, while in a thin one, the knife will quickly cut to bone. All eyes fixed on his hand as/gaugo, dwarfed by the great carcass, knelt to the breast. The first cut opened a pool of solid white in the black skin. The second and third cut widened and deepened the creamy white. Still no bone. It was pure fat; it must have been two inches thick.

'Heylgau,' I burst out, "that ox is loaded with fat. What's this about the ox being too thin to bother eating? Are you out of your mind?'

'Fat?'/gau shot back, "You call that fat? This wreck is thin, sick, dead" And he broke out laughing. So did everyone else. They rolled on the ground, paralyzed with laughter. Everybody laughed except me; I was thinking.

I ran back to the tent and burst in just as Nancy was getting up. 'Hey, the black ox. It's fat as hell! They were kidding about it being too thin to eat. It was a joke or something. A put-on. Everyone is really delighted with it!" 'Some joke," my wife replied. "it was so funny that you were ready to pack up and leave /ai/ai.' If it had indeed been a joke, it had been an extraordinarily convincing one, and tinged, I thought, with more than a touch of malice as many jokes are. Nevertheless, that it was a joke lifted my spirits considerably, and I returned to the butchering site where the shape of the ox was rapidly disappearing under the axes and knives of the butchers. The atmosphere had become festive. Grinning broadly, their arms covered with blood well past the elbow, men packed chunks of meat into the big cast-iron cooking pots, fifty pounds to the load, and muttered and chuckled all the while about the thinness and worthiness of the animal and /ontah's poor judgment.

We danced and ate that ox two days and two nights; we cooked and distributed fourteen potfuls of meat and no one went home hungry and no fights broke out. But the 'joke' stayed in my mind. I had a growing feeling that something important had happened in my relationship with the Bushmen and that the clue lay in the meaning of the joke. Several days later, when most of the people had dispersed back to the bush camps, I raised the question with Hakekgose, Tatswana man who had grown up among the !Kung, married a!Kung girl, and who probably knew their culture better than any other non-Bushman.

'With us whites,' I began, Christmas is supposed to be the day of friendship and brotherly love. what I can't figure out is why the Bushmen went to such lengths to criticize and belittle the ox I had bought for the feast. The animal was perfectly good and their jokes and wisecracks practically ruined the holiday for me."

"So it really did bother you," said Hakekgose. "Well, that's the way they always talk when I take my rifle and go hunting with them, if I miss, they laugh at me for the rest of the day. But even if I hit and bring one down, it's no better. To them, the kill is always too small or too old or too thin; and as we sit down on the kill site to cook and eat the liver, they keep grumbling, even with their mouths full of meat. They say things like, 'Oh this is awful! What a worthless animal! Whatever made me think that this Tswana rascal could hunt!"

"Is this the way outsiders are treated?" I asked. 'No, it is their custom; they talk that way to each other too. Go and ask them. if /gaugo had been one of the most enthusiastic in making me feel bad about the merit of the Christmas ox. I sough him out first. "Why did you tell me the black ox was worthless, when you could see that it was loaded with fat and meat?" 'It is our way,' he said smiling. "We always like to fool people about that. Say there is a Bushman who has been hunting. He must not come home and announce like a braggarts have killed a big one in the bush!' He must first sit down in silence until I or someone else comes up to his fire and asks,'What did you see today?' He replies quietly, 'Ah, I'm no good for hunting. I saw nothing at all [pause] just a little tiny one.' Then I smile to myself," /gaugo continued, because I know he has killed something big. 'In the morning we make up a party of four or five people to cut up and carry the meat back to the camp. when we arrive at the kill we examine it and cry out, 'You mean to say you have dragged us all the way out here in order to make us cart home your pile of bones? Oh, if I had known it was this thin I wouldn't have come.'Another one pipes up, 'People, to think I gave up a nice day in the shade for this. At home we may be hungry but at least we have nice cool water to drink.' if the horns are big, someone says, 'Did you think that somehow you were going to boil down the horns for soup?'

"To all this you must respond..in kind. 'I agree,' you say, 'this one is not worth the effort: let's just cook the liver for strength and leave the rest for the hyenas. It is not too late to hunt today and even a duiker or a steenbok would be better than this mess.' Then you set to work nevertheless; butcher the animal, carry the meat back to the camp and everyone eats.' /gaugo concluded.

Things were beginning to make sense. Next, I went to Tomazo. He corroborated /gaugo's story of the obligatory insults over a kill and added a few details of his own. But,' I asked, 'why insult a man after he has gone to all that trouble to track and kill an animal and when he is going to share the meat with you so that your children will have something to eat?" 'Arrogance,' was his cryptic answer. "Arrogance?" "Yes, when a young man kills much meat he comes to think of himself as a chief or a big man, and he thinks of the rest of us as his servants or inferiors. We can't accept this. We refuse one who boasts, for someday his pride will make him kill somebody. So we always speak of his meat as worthless. This way we cool his heart and make him gentle." 'But why didn't you tell me this before?" I asked Tomazo with some heat. 'Because you never asked me," said Tomazo, echoing the refrain that has come to haunt every field ethnographer.

The pieces now fell into place. I had known for a long time that in situations of social conflict with Bushmen I held all the cards. I was the only source of tobacco in a thousand square miles, and I was not incapable of cutting an individual off for non-cooperation. Though my boycott never lasted longer than a few days, it was an indication of my strength. People resented my presence at the water hole, yet simultaneously dreaded my leaving. In short I was a perfect target for the charge of arrogance and for the Bushmen tactic of enforcing humility.

I had been taught an object lesson by the Bushmen; it had come from an unexpected corner and had hurt me in a vulnerable area. For the big black ox was to be the one totally generous, unstinting act of my year at /ai/ai, and I was quite unprepared for the reaction I received.

As I read it, their message was this: There are no totally generous acts. All "acts" have an element of calculation. One black ox slaughtered at Christmas does not wipe out a year of careful manipulation of gifts given to serve your own ends. After all, to kill an animal and share the meat with people is really no more than Bushmen do for each other every day and with far less fanfare.

In the end, I had to admire how the Bushmen had played out the farce - collectively straight-faced to the end. Curiously, the episode reminded me of the Good Soldier Schweik and his marvelous encounters with authority. Like Schweik, the Bushmen had retained a thoroughgoing skepticism of good intentions. Was it this independence of spirit, I wondered, that had kept them culturally viable in the face of generations of contact with more powerful societies, both black and white? The thought that the Bushmen were alive and well in the Kalahari was strangely comforting. Perhaps, armed with that independence and with their superb knowledge of their environment, they might yet survive the future.

Copyright (c) 1988 by Jaime S. Wurzel

Toward Multiculturalism: A Reader in Multicultural Education by Jaime S. Wurzel

Intercultural Press, Inc. Yarmouth, Maine (1988)

THE NATURE OF PREJUDICE - An Interview with C. P. Ellis by Studs Terkel

We're in his office in Durham, North Carolina. He is the business manager of the International Union of Operating Engineers. On the wall is a plaque: "Certificate of Service, in recognition to CP. Ellis, for your faithful service to the city in having served as a member of the Durham Human Relations Council. February 1977.' At one time, he had been president (exalted cyclops) of the Durham chapter of the Ku Klux Klan. He is fifty-three years old.

My father worked in a textile mill in Durham. He died at forty-eight years old. it was probably from cotton dust. Back then, we never heard of brown. I was about seventeen years old and had a mother and sister depending on somebody to make a livin'. It was just barely enough insurance to cover his burial. I had to quit school and got to work. I was about eighth grade when I quit. My father worked hard but never had enough money to buy decent clothes. When I went to school, I never seemed to have adequate clothes to wear. I always left, school late afternoon with a sense of inferiority. The other kids had nice clothes, and I just had what Daddy could buy. I still got some of those inferiority feelin's now that I have to overcome once in a while. I loved my father. He would go with me to ball games. We'd go fishin' together. l was really ashamed of the way he'd dress. He would take this money and give it to me instead of putting it on himself. I always had the Ruling about somebody looking at him and makin' fun of him and makin' fun of me. I think it had to do somethin' with my life.

My father and I were very close, but we didn't talk about too many intimate things. He did have a drinking problem. During the week, he would work every day, but weekend he was ready to got plastered. I can understand when a guy looks at his paycheck and looks at his bills, larger than his paycheck. He'd done the best he could the entire week, and there seemed to be no hope. It's an illness thing. Finally you just say: "The heck with it. I'll just get drunk and forget it." My father was out of work during the depression, and I remember going with him to the finance company uptown and he was turned down. That's something that's always stuck. My father never seemed to be happy. It was a constant struggle with him just like it was for me. It's seldom I'd see him laugh. He was just tryin' to figure out what he could do form one day to the next.

After several years pumping gas at a service station, I got married. We had to have children. Four. One child was born blind and retarded, which was a real additional expense to us. He's never spoken a word. He doesn't know me when I go to see him. But I see him, I hug his neck. I talk to him, tell him I love him. I don't know whether he knows me or not, but I know he's well taken care of. All my life, I had to work, never a day without work, worked all the overtime I could get and still could not survive financially. I began to say there's somethin' wrong with this country. I worked my butt off and just never seemed to break even.

I had some real great ideas about this great nation. (Laughs). They say to abide by the law, go to church, do right and live for the Lord, and everything will work out. But it didn't work out. It just kept gettin' worse and worse. I was workin' a bread route. The highest I made one week was seventy-five dollars. The rent on our house was about twelve dollars a week. I will never forget: outside of this house was a 265-gallon oil drum, and I never did get enough money to fill up that oil drum. What I would do every night, I would run up to the store and buy five gallons of oil and climb up the ladder and pour it in that 265 gallon drum. I could hear that five gallons when it hits the bottom of that oil drum, splatters, and it sounds like it's nothin'‘ in there. But it would keep the house warm for the night. Next day you'd have to do the same thing.

I left the bread rout with fifty dollars in my pocket. I went to the bank and I borrowed four thousand dollars to buy the service station. I worked seven days a week, open and close and finally had a heart attack. Just about two months before the last payments of that loan. My wife had done the best she could to keep it runnin'. Tryin' to come out of that hole, I just couldn't do it. I really began to get bitter. I didn't know who to blame. I tried to find somebody. I began to blame it on black people. I had to hate somebody. Hatin' America is hard to do because you can't see it to hate it. You gotta have something' to look at to hate. (Laughs). The natural person for me to hate would be black people, because my father before me was a member of the Klan. As far as he was concerned, it was the savior of the white people. It was the only organization in the world that would take care of the white people. So I began to admire the Klan.

I got active in the Klan while Iw as at the service station. Every Monday night, a group of men would come by and buy a Coca-Cola, go back to the car, take a few drinks, and come back and stand around talkin'. I couldn't help but wonder: Why are these dudes comin' out every Monday? They said they were with the Klan and have meetings close-by. Would I be interested? Boy that was an opportunity I really looked forward to! To be part of something'. I joined the Klan, went from member to chaplain, from chaplain to vice-president, from vice-president to president. The title is exalted cyclops.

The first night I went with the fellas, they knocked on the door and gave the signal. They sent some robed Klansmen to talk to me and give me some instructions. I was led into a large meeting room, and this was the time of my life! It was thrilling. Here's a guy who's worked all his life and struggled all his life to be something and here's the moment to be something. I will never forget it. Four robed Klansmen led me into the hall. The lights were dim, and the only thing you could see was an illuminated cross. I knelt before the cross. I had to make certain vows and promises. We promised to uphold the purity of the white race, fight communism, and protect white womanhood.

After I had taken my oath, there was loud applause goin' throughout the building', must a been at least four hundred people. For this one little ol'person. it was a thrilling moment for C.P. Ellis. lt disturbs me when people who do not really know what it's all about are so very critical of individual Klansmen. The majority of'em are low-income whites, people who really don't have a part in something. They have been shut out as well as the blacks. Some are not very well educated either. just like myself. We had a lot of support from doctors and lawyers and police officers. Maybe they've had bitter experiences in this life and they had to hate somebody. So the natural person to hate would be the black person. He's beginning' to come up, he's beginning' to learn to read and start voting' and run for political office. Here are white people who are supposed to be superior to them, and we're shut out.

I can understand why people join extreme right-wing or left-wing groups. They're in the same boat I was. Shut out. Deep down inside, we want to be part of this great society. Nobody listens, so we join these groups.

At one time, I was state organizer of the National Rights party. I organized a youth group for the Klan. I felt we were getting old and our generation's gonna die. So I contacted certain kids in schools. They were having' racial problems. On the first night, we had a hundred high school students. when they came in the door, we had 'Dixie' playing'. These kids were just thrilled to death. I begin to hold weekly meeting's with 'em, teach in the principles of the Klan. At that time, I believed Martin Luther King had Communist connections. I began to teach that Andy Young was affiliated with the Communist party.

I had a call one night from one of our kids. He was about twelve. He said: 'I just been robbed downtown by two niggers." I'd had a couple of drinks and that really teed me off. I go downtown and couldn't find the kid. I got worried. I saw two young black people. I had the.32 revolver with me. I said: 'Nigger, you seen a little young white boy up here? I just got a call from him and was told that some niggers robbed him of fifteen cents." I pulled my pistol out and put it right at his head. I said: 'I've always wanted to kill a nigger and I think I'll make you the first one." I nearly scared the kid to death, and he struck off. This was the time when the civil rights movement was really beginning' to peak. The blacks were beginnin' to demonstrate and picket downtown stores. I never will forget some black lady I hated with a purple passion. Ann Atwater. Every time I'd go downtown, she'd be leadin' a boycott. How I hated-pardon the expression, I don't use it much now-how I just hated that black nigger. (Laughs.) Big, fat, heavy woman. She'd pull about eight demonstrations, and first thing you know they had two, three blacks at the checkout counter. Her and I have had some pretty close confrontations.

I felt very big, yeah. (Laughs.) we're more or less a secret organization. We didn't want anybody to know who we were, and I began to do some thinkin'. What am I hidin' for? I've never been convicted of anything in my life. I don't have any court record. What am I, C.P. Ellis, as a citizen and a member of the United Klansmen of America? Why can't I go to the city council meeting and say: "This is the way we feel about the matter? We don't want you to purchase mobile units to. set in our schoolyards. We don't want niggers in our schools."

We began to come out in the open. We would go to the meetings, and the blacks would be there and we'd be there. it was a confrontation every time. I didn't hold back anything. We began to make some inroads with the city councilmen and county commissioners. They began to call us friend. Call us at night on the telephone: "C.P., glad you came to that meeting last night." They didn't want integration either, but they did it secretively, in order to get elected.

They couldn't stand up openly and say it, but they were glad somebody was sayin' it. We visited some of the city leaders in their home and talk to them privately. it wasn't long before councilmen would call me up: the blacks are comin' up tonight and makin' outrageous demands. How about some of you people showin' up and have a little balance?' I'd get on the telephone: 'The niggers is comin' to the council meeting tonight. Persons in the city's cal led me and asked us to be there." We'd load up our cars and we'd fill up half the council chambers, and the blacks the other half. During these times, I carried weapons to the meetings, outside my belt. We'd go there armed. We would wind up just hollerin' and fussin' at each other. What happened? As a result of our fightin' one another, the city council still had their way. They didn't want to give up control to the blacks nor the Klan. They were usin' us.

I began to realize this later down the road. one-day I was walkin' downtown and a certain city council member saw me comin'. I expected him to shake my hand because he was talkin' to me at night on the telephone. I had been in his home and visited with him. He crossed the street. Oh shit, I began to think, somethin's wrong here. Most of 'em are merchants or maybe an attorney, an insurance agent, people like that. As long as they kept low-income whites and low-income blacks fightin', they're gonna maintain control. I began to get that feeling after I was ignored in public. I thought: Bullshit, you're not gonna use me any more. That's when I began to do some real serious thinkin'. The same things is happening in this country today. People are being used by those in control, those who have all the wealth. I'm not espousing communism. We got the greatest system of government in the world. But those who have it simply don't want those who don't have it to have any part of it. Black and white. When it comes to money, the green, the other colors make no difference. (Laughs.)

I spent a lot of sleepless nights. I still didn't like blacks. I didn't want to associate with'em. Blacks, Jews, or Catholics. My father said: "Don't have anything to do with them.' I didn't until I met a black person and talked with him, eyeball to eyeball, and met a wish person and talked to him, eyeball to eyeball. I found out they're people just like me. They cried, they cussed, they prayed, they had desires. just like myself. Thank God, I got to the point where I can look past labels. But at that time, my mind was closed.

I remember one Monday night Klan meeting. I said something was wrong. Our city fathers were using us. And I didn't like to be used. The reactions of the others was not too pleasant: "Let's just keep fightin' them niggers. I'd go home at night and I'd have to wrestle with myself. I'd look at a black person walkin' down the street, and the guy'd have ragged shoes or his clothes would be worn. That began to do somethin' to me inside. I went through this for about six months. I felt I just had to get out of the Klan. But I wouldn't get out.

Then something happened. The state AFL-CIO received a grant from the Department of HEW, a $78,000 grant: how to solve racial problems in the school system. I got telephone call from the president of the state AFL-CIO. 'We'd like to get some people together from all walks of life." I said: "All walks of life? Who you talkin' about?' He said: "Blacks, whites, liberals, conservatives, Klansmen, NAACP people." I said: 'No way am I comin' with all those niggers. I'm not gonna be associated with those type of people." A White Citizens Council guy said: 'Let's go up there and see what's goin' on. It's tax money bein' spent. I walk in the door, and there was a large number of blacks and white liberals. I knew most of'em by face' cause I seen'em demonstratin' around town. Ann Atwater was there. (Laughs.) I just forced myself to go in and sit down.

The meeting was moderated by a great big black guy who was bushy-headed. (Laughs.) That turned me off. He acted very nice. He said "I want you all to feel free to say anything you want to say." Some of the blacks stand up and say it's white racism. I took all I could take. I asked for the floor and I cut loose. I said: "No sir, it's black racism. If we didn't have niggers in the schools, we wouldn't have the problems we got today."

I will never forget. Howard Clements, a black guy stood up. He said. "I'm certainly glad C. P. Ellis come because he's the most honest man here tonight." I said "What's that nigger tryin' to do?" (Laughs). At the end of that meeting, some blacks tried to come up shake my hand, but I wouldn't do it. I walked off.

Second night, same group was there. I felt a little more easy because got some things off my chest. The third night, after they elected all the committees, they want to elect a chairman. Howard Clements stood up and said: I suggest we elect two co-chairpersons.' Joe Beckton, executive director of the Human Relations Commission, just as black as he can be, he nominated me. There was a reaction from some blacks. Nooo. And, of all things, they nominated Ann Atwater, that big old fat black gal that I had just hated with a purple passion, as co-chairman. I thought to myself: Hey, ain't no way I can work with that gal. Finally, I agreed 1, either for survival or against black people to accept it,'cause atthis point, I was tired of fightin or against Jews or against Catholics.

A Klansman and a militant black woman, co-chairmen of the school committee. It was impossible. How could I work with her? But after about two or three days, it was in our hands. We had to make it a success. his give me another sense of belonging', a sense of pride. This helped this inferiority feelin' l had . A man who has stood up publicly and said he despised black people, all of a sudden he was willin' to work with'em. Here's a chance for a low-income white man to be somethin'. in spite of all my hatred for blacks and Jews and liberals, I accepted the job. Her and I began to reluctantly work together. (Laughs.) She had as many problems workin' with me as I had workin' with her.

One night , I called her: "Ann, you and I should have a lot of differences and we got'em now. But there's somethin' laid out here before us, and if it's gonna be a success, you and I are gonna have to make it one. Can we lay aside some of these feelin's?' She said: 'I'm willing if you are.' I said: "Let's do it." My old friends would call me at night: C.P., what the hell is wrong with you? You're sellin' out the white race." This begin to make me have guilt feelin's. Am I doin' right? Am I doin' wrong. Here I am all of a sudden makin' an about-face and tryin'to deal with my feelin's, my heart. My mind was beginnin' to open up. I was beginnin' to see what was right and what was wrong. I don't want the kids to fight forever. We were gonna go ten nights. By this time, I had went to work at Duke University, in maintenance. Makin' very little money. Terry Sanford give me this days off with pay. He was president of Duke at the time. He knew I was a Klansman and realized the importance of blacks and whites getting along. I said:"If we're gonna make this thing a success, l've got to get to my kind of people.' The low-income whites. We walked the streets of Durham, and we knocked on doors and invited people- Ann was goin' into the black community. They just wasn't respondent us when we made a "house calls. Some of'em were cussin'us out. 'You're sellin'us out, Ellis, get out of my door. I don't want to talk to you." Ann was gettin' the same response from blacks: "What are you doin' messin' with that Klansman?'

One day Ann and I went back to the school and we sat down. We began to talk and just reflect. Ann said: "My daughter came home cryin' every day. She said her teacher was makin' fun of me in front of the other kids." I said: "13oy, the same thing happened to my kid. White

Liberal teacher was makin' fun of Tim Ellis's father, the Klansman. In front of other peoples. He came home cryin'." At this point -- (he pauses, swallows hard, stifles a sob) - l begin to see, here people from the far ends of the fence, having' identical problems, except hers bein' black and me bein' white. From that moment on, I tell ya, that gal and I worked together good. I begin to love the girl, really. (He weeps).

The amazing thing about it, her and l, up to that point, had cussed each other, bawled each other. We didn't know we had things in common. We worked at it, with the people who came to these meetings. They talked about racism, sex education, about teachers not bein' qualified. After seven, eight nights of real intense discussion, these people, who'd never talked to each other before, all of a sudden came up with resolutions. It was really somethin', you had to be there to get the tone and feelin' of it. At that point, I didn't like integration, but the law says you do this and I've got to do what the law says, okay? We said: let's take these resolutions to the school board." The most disheartening thing I've ever faced was the-school system refused to implement any one of these resolutions. These were recommendations from the people who pay taxes and pay their salaries. (Laughs.)

I thought they were good answers. Some of'em I didn't agree with, but I been in this thing from the beginning, and whatever comes of it, I'm gonna support it. Okay, since the school board refused, I decided I'd just run for the school board. I spent eighty-five dollars on the campaign. The guy runnin' against me spent several thousand. I really had nobody on my side. The Klan turned against me. The low-income whites turned against me. The liberals didn't particularly like me. The blacks were suspicious of me. The blacks wanted to support me, but they couldn't muster up enough to support a Klansman on the school board. (Laughs.) But I made up my mind that what I was doin' was right, and I was gonna do it regardless what anybody said. It bothered me when people would call and worry my wife. She's always supported me in anything I wanted to do. She was changing, and my boys were too. I got some of my youth corps kids involved. They still followed me.

I was invited to the Democratic women's social hour as a candidate. Didn't have but one suit to my name. Had it six, seven, eight years. I had it cleaned, put on the best shirt I had and a tie. Here were all this high-class wealthy candidates shakin' hands. I walked up to the mayor and stuck out my hand. He give me that handshake with that rag type of hand. He said: 'C.P I'm glad to see you." But I could tel I by his handshake he was lyin' to me. This was botherin me. I know I'm a low-income person. I know I'm not wealthy. I know they were sayin': 'What's this little ol' dude runnin' for school board?" Yet they had to smile and make like they're glad to see me. I begin to spot some black people in that room. I automatically went to them and that was a firm handshake. They said: 'I'm glad to see you, C.P." I knew they meant it-you can tell about a handshake. Every place I appeared, I said I will listen to the voice of the people. I will not make a major decision until I first contacted all the organizations in the city. I got 4,640 votes. The guy beat me by two thousand. Not bad for eighty-five bucks and no constituency. The whole world was opening' up, and I was learnin' new truths that I had never learned before. I was beginnin' to look at a black person, shake hands with him, and see him as a human bein'. I hadn't got rid of all this stuff. I've still got a little bit of it. But somethin' was happenin' to me. It was almost like bein' born again. it was a new life. I didn't have these sleepless nights I used to have when I was active in the Klan and slippin' around at night. I could sleep at night and feel good about it. I'd rather live now than at any other time in history. it's a challenge.

Back at Duke, doin' maintenance, I'd pick up my tools, fix the commode, unstop the drains. But this got in my blood. Things weren't right in this country, and what we done in Durham needs to be told. I was so miserable at Duke, I could hardly stand it. I'd go to work every morning just hatin' to go. My whole life had changed. I got an eighth-grade education, and I wanted to complete high school. Went to high school in the afternoons on a program called PEP-Past Employment Progress. I was about the only white in class, and the oldest. I begin to read about biology. I'd take my books home at night,'cause I was determined to get through. Sure enough, I graduated. I got the diploma at home. I come to work one mornin' and some guy says: We need a union.' At this time I wasn't pro-union. My daddy was anti-labor too. We're not gettin' paid much, we're having' to work seven days in a row. We're all starvin' to death. The next day, I meet the international representative of the Operating Engineers. He give me authorization cards. "Get these cards out and we'll have an election.' There was eighty-eight for the union and seventeen no's. I was elected chief steward for the union. Shortly after, a union man come down from Charlotte and says we need a full-time rep. We've got only two hundred people at the two plants here. It's just barely enough money comin' in to pay your salary. You'll I have to get out and organize more people. I didn't know nothin' about organizing' unions, but I knew how to organize people, stir people up. (Laughs.) That's how I got to be business agent for the union.

When I began to organize, I began to see far deeper. I began to see people again bein' used. Blacks against whites. I say this without any hesitancy: management is vicious. There's two things they want to keep: all the money and all the say-so. They don't want these poor workin' folks to have none of that. I begin to see management fightin' me with everything they had. Hire anti-union law firms, badmouth unions. The people were makin' a dollar ninety-five an hour, barely able to get through weekends. I worked as a business rep for five years and was seeing' all this.

Last year, I ran for business manager of the union. He's elected by the workers. The guy that ran against me was black, and our membership is seventy-five percent black. I thought: Claiborne, there's no way you can beat that black guy. People know your background. Even though you've made tremendous strides, those black people are not gonna vote for you. You know how much I beat him? Four to one. (Laughs.)

The company used my past against me. They put out letters with a picture of a robe and a cap: Would you vote for a Klansman? They wouldn't deal with the issues. I immediately called for a mass meeting. I met with the ladies at an electric component plant. I said: 'Okay, this is Claiborne Ellis. This is where I come from. I want you to know right now, you black ladies here, I was at one time a member of the Klan. I want you to know, because they'll tell you about it.' I invited some of my old black friends. I said: 'Brother Joe, Brother Howard, be honest now and tell these people how you feel about me." They done it. (Laughs.) Howard Clements kidded me a little bit. He said: 'I don't know what I'm doin' here, support in an ex-Klansman." (Laughs.) He said: 'I know what C.P. Ellis come from. I knew him when he was. I knew him as he grew, and grew with him. I'm tellin' you now: follow, follow this Klansman." (He pauses, swallows hard.) "Any questions?" "No," the black ladies said. "Let's get on with the meeting, we need Ellis." (He laughs and weeps.) Boy, black people sayin' that about me. I won 134 to 41. Four to one.

It makes you feel good to go into a plant and butt heads with professional union busters. You see black people and white people join hands to defeat the fascist issues they use against people. They're tryin' the same things with the Klan. it's still happenin‘ today. Can you imagine a guy who's got an adult high school diploma run into professional college graduates who are union busters? I gotta compete with 'em. I work seven days a week, nights and on Saturday and Sunday. The salary's not that great, and if I didn't care, I'd quit. But I care and I can't quit. I got a taste of it. (Laughs.)

I tell people there's a tremendous possibility in this country to stop wars, the battles, the struggles, the fights between people. People say: "That's an impossible dream. You sound I like Martin Luther King.' An ex-Klansman who sounds like Martin Luther King. (Laughs.) I don't think it's an impossible dream. it's happened in my life. it's happened in other people's lives in America.

I don't know what's ahead of me. I have no desire to be a big union official. I want to be right out here in the field with the workers. I want to walk through their factory and shake hands with that man whose hands are dirty. I'm gonna do all that one little ol' man can do. I'm fifty-two years old, and I ain't got many years left, but I want to make the best of 'em. When the news came over the radio that Martin Luther King was assassinated, I got on the telephone and begin to cal I other Klansmen. We just had a real party at the service station. Real ly rejoicing' 'cause that son of a bitch was dead. Our troubles are over with. They say the older you get, the harder it is for you to change. That's not necessarily true. Since I changed, I've set down and listened to tapes of Martin Luther King. I listen to it and tears come to my eyes 'cause I know what he's sayin' now. I know what's happenin'.

POSTSCRIPT: The phone rings. A conversation. 'This was a black guy who's director of 0peration Breakthrough in Durham. I had called his office. I'm interested in employing' some young black person who's interested in leamin' the labor movement I want somebody who's never had an opportunity, just like myself just so he can read and write, that's all.

Copyright (c) 1988 by Jaime S. Wurzel

Toward Multiculturalism: A Reader in Multicultural Education by Jaime S. Wurzel

Intercultural Press, Inc. Yarmouth, Maine (1988)

Blind Vision: Unlearning Racism in Teacher Education By MARILYN COCHRAN-SMITH

Literary theorist Barbara Hardv (1978) once asserted that narrative ought not be regarded as an "aesthetic invention used by artists to control, manipulate, and order experience, but as a primary act of mind transferred to art from life" (p. 12). Elaborating on the primacy of narrative in both our interior and exterior lives, Hardv suggests that

storytelling plays a major role in our sleeping and waking lives. We dream in narrative, daydream in narrative, remember, anticipate, hope, despair, believe, doubt, plan, revise, criticize,. construct, gossip, learn, hate and love by narrative. (p. 13)

From this perspective, narrative can be regarded as locally illuminating, a central way we organize and understand experience (Mishier, 1986; VanManen, 1990). It is also a primary way we construct our multiple identities as human beings for whom race, gender, class, culture, ethnicity, language, ability, sexual orientation, role, and position make a profound difference in the nature and interpretation of experience (Tatum, 1997; Thompson & Tyagi, 1996).

In this article, Identities explore and write about unlearning racism in teaching and teacher education. Identities do not begin in the scholarly tradition of crisply framing an educational problem by connecting it to current policy and practice and/or to the relevant research literature. Instead, Identities begin with a lengthy narrative based on my experiences as a teacher educator at a moment in time when issues of race and racism were brought into unexpectedly sharp relief. Identities do so with the assumption that narrative is not only locally illuminating, as Hardy's work suggests, but also that it has the capacity to contain and entertain within it contradictions, nuances, tensions, and complexities that traditional academic discourse with its expository stance and more distanced impersonal voice cannot (Fine, 1994; Gitlin, 1994; Metzger, 1986).

The idea that racism is something that all of us have inevitably learned simply by living in a racist society is profoundly provocative (King, Hollins, & Hayman, 1997; McIntosh, 1989; Tatum, 1992). For many of us, it challenges not only our most precious democratic ideals about equitable access to opportunity, but also our most persistent beliefs in the possibilities of school and social change through enlightened human agency (Apple, 1996; Giroux, 1988; Leistyna, Woodrum, & Sherblom, 1996; Noffke, 1997). Perhaps even more provocative is the position that part of our responsibility as teachers and teacher educators is to struggle along with others in order to Unlearn racism (Britzman, 1991; Cochran-Smith, 1995a; Sleeter, 1992), or to interrogate the racist assumptions that may be deeply embedded in our own courses and curricula, to own our own complicity in maintaining existing systems of privilege and oppression, and to grapple with our own failures to produce the kinds of changes we advocate. Attempting to make the unending process of unlearning racism explicit and public is challenging and somewhat risky. Easily susceptible to misinterpretation and misrepresentation, going public involves complex nuances of interpretation, multiple layers of contradiction, competing perspectives, and personal exposure (Cochran-Smith, 1995b; Cole & Knowles, 1998; Rosenberg, 1997). Identities go public with the stories in this article not because they offer explicit directions for unlearning racism, but because they pointedly suggest some of the most complex questions we need to wrestle with in teacher education: In our everyday lives as teachers and teacher educators, how are we complicate - intentionally or otherwise - in maintaining the cycles of oppression (Lawrence & Tatum, 1997) that operate daily in our courses, our universities, our schools, and our society? Under what conditions is it possible to examine, expand, and alter longstanding (and often implicit) assumptions, attitudes, beliefs, and practices about schools, teaching, students, and communities? What roles do collaboration, inquiry, self-examination, and story play in learning of this kind? As teacher educators, what should we say about race and racism, what should we have our students read and write? What should we tell them about who can teach whom, who can speak for whom, and who has the right to speak at all about racism and teaching?

Blind Vision: A Story From a Teacher Educator

A White European American woman, Identities taught for many years at the University of Pennsylvania, a large research university in urban Philadelphia whose population was predominantly White, but whose next-door neighbors in west Philadelphia were schools and communities populated by African Americans and Asian immigrants. Seventy-five to 80 percent of the students Identities taught were White European Americans, but they worked as student teachers primarily in the public schools of Philadelphia where the population was often mostly African American or - in parts of north and northeast Philadelphia mostly Latino. In those schools that appeared on the surface to be more ideally integrated, the racial tension was sometimes intense, with individual groups insulated from or even hostile toward one another.

The teacher education program Identities directed had for years included in the curriculum an examination of race, class, and culture and the ways these structure both the U.S. educational system and the experiences of individuals in that system. For years my students read Comer (1989), Delpit (1986, 1988), Giroux (1984), Heath (1982 a, 1982b), Ogbu (1978), as well Assante (1991), McIntosh (1989), Moll, Amanti, Neff, and Gonzalez ( ' 1992), Rose (1989), Sleeter and Grant (1987), Tatum (1992), and others who explore issues of race, class, culture, and language from critical and other perspectives. Identities thought that the commitment of my program to urban student teaching placements and to devoting a significant portion of the curriculum to issues of race and racism gave me a certain right to speak about these issues as a teacher educator. Identities thought this with some degree of confidence until an event occurred that was to change forever the way Identities thought about racism and teacher education. This event was to influence the work Identities did with colleagues in the Penn program over the next six years, as well as the work in which Identities am presently engaged as a teacher educator at Boston College, where Identities collaborate with other teacher educators, teachers, and student teachers in the Boston area.

The event that is described in the following narrative occurred at the end of a t%vo-hour student teaching seminar that was held biweekly for the thirty-some students in the Penn program at the time.

We had come to the end of a powerful presentation about the speaker's personal experiences with racism, both as a young Native boy in an all-White class and later as the single minority teacher in a small rural school. The presentation had visibly moved many of us. The guest speaker a Native American who worked in a teacher education program at another university asked my student teachers about their program at Penn. I had no qualms. Our program was well known and well received. Students often raved about it to visitors from outside. Knowing and sharing the commitment of my program to exploring issues of race, my guest asked in the last few minutes of our two-hour seminar, "And what does this program do to help you examine questions about race and racism in teaching and schooling?" Without hesitation, one student teacher, a Puerto Rican woman, raised her hand and said with passion and an anger that bordered on rage, "Nothing! This program does nothing to address issues of race!" After a few seconds of silence that felt to me like hours, two other students - one African American and one Black South African - agreed with her, adding their frustration and criticism to the first comment and indicating that we read nothing and said nothing that addressed these questions. I was stunned. With another class waiting to enter the room, students - and I - quickly exited the room.

My first responses to this event included every personally defensive strategy I could muster. In the same way that my students sometimes did, I identified and equated myself with "the program."And in certain important ways, I suppose I was the program in that I had been the major architect of its social and organizational structures, and I was ultimately responsible for its decisions. I relived the final moments of the seminar, turning the same thoughts over and over in my head: How could she say that@ How could others agree? After all, the compelling presentation we had all just heard was in and of itself evidence that we addressed issues of race in our program. And besides, ,just a few days earlier, she and a group of five other women students had presented a paper at a teacher research conference at Penn. They had chosen to be part of an inquiry group that was to write a paper about race and their student-teaching experiences because I had invited them to, I had suggested the topic. They had used the data of their writing and teacher research projects from my class to examine the impact of race and racism on their student teaching experiences. How could she say that?

I counted up the ongoing efforts I had made to increase the diversity in our supervisory staff and in our pool of cooperating teachers. I had insisted that we send student teachers to schools where the population was nearly 100 percent African American and Latino, schools that some colleagues cautioned me were too tough for student teachers, that some student teachers complained were too dangerous, and one had once threatened to sue me if I made her go there even for a brief field visit. I talked about issues of race openly and, I thought, authentically in my classes - all of them, no matter what the course title or the topic. I thought about the individual and personal efforts I had made on behalf of some of those students - helping them get scholarships, intervening with cooperating teachers or supervisors, working for hours with them on papers, lending books and articles. I constructed a long and convincing mental argument that I was one of the people on the right side of this issue. Nobody can do everything, and I was sure that I already paid more attention to questions of racism and teaching than did many teacher educators. How could she say that? I was stunned by what had happened, and deeply hurt - surprised as much as angry.

During the first few days after that seminar session, many students - most of them White - stopped by my office to tell me that they thought we were indeed doing a great deal to address issues of race and racism in the program, but they had clearly heard the outrage and dissatisfaction of their fellow students and they wanted to learn more, to figure out what we should do differently. Some students - both White students and students of color stopped by or wrote notes saying that they thought we were currently doing exactly what we should be doing to address issues of race-ace in the program. And a few students - all White - stopped by to say that all we ever talked about in the program and in my classes was race and racism and what they really wanted to know was when we were going to learn how to teach reading.

I knew that the next meeting of the seminar group would be a turning point for me and for the program. I struggled with what to say, how to proceed, what kind of stance I needed to take and would be able to take. I knew that I needed to open (not foreclose) the discussion, to acknowledge the frustration and anger (even the rage) that had been expressed, and, above all, I knew that I needed not to be defensive. I felt very heavy - it was clear to me that I was about to teach my student teachers one of the most important lessons I would ever teach them. I was about to teach them how a White teacher, who - notwithstanding the rhetoric in my classes about collaboration, shared learning, and co-construction of knowledge - had a great deal of power over their futures in the program and in the job market, how that White teacher, who fancied herself pretty liberal and enlightened, responded when confronted directly and angrily about some of the issues of race that were right in front of her in her own teaching and her own work as a teacher educator.

The very different responses of my students and my own shock and hurt at some of those responses pointed out to me on a visceral level the truth that many of the articles we were reading in class argued on a more intellectual level: how we are positioned in terms of race and power vis-a-vis others has a great deal to do with how we see, what we see, want we want to see, and what we are able not to see. I thought of Clifford Geertz's discussion of the difficulties involved in representing insider knowledge and meaning perspectives. He suggests that, ultimately, anthropologists cannot really represent 'local knowledge" - what native inhabitants see - but only what they see through; that is, their interpretive perspectives on their own experiences. This situation laid bare the enormous differences between what I - and people differently situated from me - saw and saw through as we constructed our lives as teachers and students.

I didn't decide until right before the seminar exactly what I would say. I had thought of little else during the week. I felt exposed, failed, trapped, and completely inadequate to the task. In the end, I commented briefly then opened up the two hours for students to say whatever they wished. I tried to sort out and say back as clearly as I could both what f had heard people say at the seminar and the quite disparate responses I had heard in the ensuing week. It was clear from these, I said, that nobody speaks for anybody or everybody else. As I spoke, I tried not to gloss over the scathing critique or make the discrepancies appear to be less discrepant than they were. Especially for many of the students of color in the program, I said that I had clearly heard that there was a feeling of isolation, of being silenced, a feeling that we had not dealt with issues of race and racism in a 'real" way - briefly perhaps, but in ways that were too intellectualized and theoretical rather than personal and honest. Notwithstanding the view expressed by some students that all we ever talked about was race, I reported a strong consensus that an important conversation had been opened tip and needed to continue, although I also noted that it was clear some conversations about race and racism, maybe the most important ones, could not be led by me, a white teacher.

I concluded by saying that despite my deep commitments to an antiracist curriculum for ail students, whether children or adults, and despite my intentions to promote constructive discourse about the issues in teacher education, I realized I didn't "get it" some (or much) of the time. This seemed to be one of those times. I admitted that these things were hard, uncomfortable, and sometimes even devastating to hear, but we needed to hear, to listen hard, and to stay with it.

What I remember most vividly about that seminar are the tension and the long silence that followed my comments and my open invitation to others to speak. My seminar co-leader (and friend) told me later that she was sure we all sat in silence for at least twenty minutes (my watch indicated that about three minutes had passed). The same woman who had responded so angrily the week before spoke first, thanking us for hearing and for providing time for people to name the issues. Others followed. All of the women of color in the program spoke, most of them many times. A small portion of the White students participated actively. Students critiqued their inner-city school placements, describing the inability or unwillingness of some of the experienced teachers at their schools to talk about issues of race and racism, to be mentors to them about these issues. They said we needed more cooperating teachers and more student teachers of color. They spoke of middle-class, mostly White teachers treating poor children, mostly children of color, in ways that were abrupt and disrespectful at best, reprehensible and racist at worst. Some spoke passionately about the disparities they had observed between their home schools and the schools they had cross-visited - disparities in resources and facilities, but even more in the fundamental ways teachers treated children in poor urban schools on the one hand, and in middle-class urban or suburban schools on the other. They complained that our Penn faculty and administrators were all white, naming and counting tip each of us and assuming I had the power and authority, but not the will, to change things. They said that the lack of faculty of color and the small number of students of color in the program gave little validation to the issues they wished to raise as women and prospective teachers of color. Many of them were angry, bitter. They spoke with a certain sense of unity as if their scattered, restrained voices had been conjoined, unleashed.

The co-leader and I avoided eye contact with one another, our faces serious and intense but carefully trying not to signal approval or disapproval, agreement or disagreement. Many White students were silent, some almost ashen. Some seemed afraid to speak. One said people were at different levels with issues of race and racism, implying that others in the room might not understand but that she herself was beyond that. Another commented that she too had experienced racism, especially because her boyfriend was African American. One said that when she looked around her student-teaching classroom, she saw only children, not color. Another complained that she didn't see why somebody couldn't just tell her what she (didn't get so she could just get it and get on with teaching. I cringed inside at some of these comments, while several of the women of color rolled their eyes, whispered among themselves. One who was older than most of the students in the program eventually stopped making any attempt to hide her hostility and exasperation. She was openly disdainful in her side comments. Finally, a young White woman, with clear eyes and steady voice, turned to the older woman and said she was willing to hear any criticism, any truth about herself, but she wanted it said in front of her, to her face. The only man of color in the program, who sat apart from the other students, said all he wanted to do was to be an effective teacher. He did not want to be seen as a Black male teacher and a role model for Black children, but as a good teacher. Others immediately challenged him on the impossibility and irresponsibility of that stance.

For nearly two hours, the tension in the room was palpable, raw. As leaders we said little, partly because we had little idea what to say, partly because we had agreed to open up the time to the students. We nodded, listened, took notes. Toward the end, we asked for suggestions - how the group wanted to spend the two or three seminar sessions remaining in the year that had any flexibility in terms of topic, schedule, or speakers. We asked for recommendations. There were many suggestions but only a few that we could actually do something about in the six weeks or so that remained before the students graduated, given the already full schedule and the final press of certification and graduation details. (Many of the suggestions that we took up in the following year are described in the remainder of this article. For the current year, we opened up discussion time and included student teachers in planning and evaluation groups.)

Two students wrote me letters shortly after this seminar. One was appreciative, one was disgusted. Both, I believe, were heartfelt. A White woman wrote: "When You began to speak at the last seminar, I held my breath. The atmosphere in the room was so loaded, so brooding. It felt very unsafe. What would you say? What could you say? It would have been so very easy at this point to retreat into academe - to play The Professor, The Program Director, and not respond or address the fact that there were painful unresolved issues to be acknowledged, if not confronted.... Instead you responded honestly and openly, telling us how you were thinking about things, how you felt and the dilemmas you encountered as you too struggled to 'get it.' . . . Your words were carefully considered ... and seemed spoken not without some cost to you.' In contrast, a White man wrote:

After this evening's seminar, I thought I would drop you this note to let you know how I react to the issues that were (and were not) confronted.... To be honest, I feel that the critical issues of race and racism have been made apparent and important in my studies ... since I began [the program]. That they should have been made the fulcrum point of the curriculum and each course is problematic. I would say no; others (more vehemently) would insist on it.... I really have no idea how to most effectively proceed. I do know one thing. I am committed to bringing issues of race into my classroom, wherever I may teach. However, being nonconfrontational by nature, and with sincere respect for the opinions of my fellow students, I will probably not attend another session about this. Frankly, my students, and my career in education will benefit a lot more by staying at home and spending a few hours trying to integrate multicultural issues into my lesson plans than they will by talking one more time about race.

It would be an understatement to say that these events were galvanizing as well as destabilizing for me, for the people I worked closely with, and for the students who graduated just six weeks later. Everything was called into question - what we thought we were about as a program, who we were as a community, what learning opportunities were available in our curriculum, whose interests were served, whose needs were met, and whose were not. But it would be inaccurate to say that these events caused changes in the program over the next six years or that we proceeded from this point in a linear way, learning from our "mistakes" and then correcting them. Although the story of "so then what happened?" is of course chronological in one sense, it is decidedly not a story of year-by--year, closer and closer approximations of 'the right way' to open and sustain a discourse about race and racism in teacher education programs aimed at preparing both students of color and White students to be teachers in both urban and other schools. Rather, the story is an evolving, recursive, and current one about what it means to grapple with the issues of racism and teaching in deeper and more uncertain ways.

It is also important to say, I think, that the above account of what happened is a fiction, not reality or truth, but my interpretation of my own and other people's experience in a way that makes sense to me and speaks for me. Although part of my intention in telling this story is to uncover my failure and unravel my complicity in maintaining the existing system of privilege and oppression, it is impossible for me to do so without sympathy for my own predicament. My experience as a first-generation-to-college, working-class girl who pushed into a middle-class, highly educated male profession has helped give me some vision about the personal and institutional impact of class and gender differences on work, status, and ways of knowing. But my lifelong membership in the privileged racial group has helped keep me blind about much of the impact of race. In fact, I have come to think of the story related above as a story of 'blind vision" - a White female teacher educator with a vision about the importance of making issues of race and diversity explicit parts of the pre-service curriculum and, in the process, grappling (sometimes blindly) with the tension, contradiction, difficulty, pain, and failure inherent in unlearning racism.

Of course, it is what we do after we tell stories like this one that matters most, or, more correctly, it is what we do afterwards that makes these stories matter at all. In the remainder of this article, I examine what I tried to do as a teacher educator and what we tried to do in our teacher education community after this story was told. We wanted to do nothing short of total transformation, nothing short of inventing a curriculum that was once and for all free of racism. What we did do over time was much more modest. Over time we struggled to unlearn racism by learning to read teacher education as racial text, a process that involved analyzing and altering the learning opportunities available in our program along the lines of their implicit and explicit messages about race, racism, and teaching, as well as - and as important as - acknowledging to each other and to our students that this process would never be finished, would never be 'once and for all." In the pages that follow, I analyze and illustrate this process, drawing on the following experiences and data sources: the evolution of three courses I regularly taught during the years that followed these events; the changes we made over time in the intellectual, social, and organizational contexts of the program; and tile persistent doubts, questions, and failures we experienced as recorded in notes, reflections, conversations and other correspondences. In the final section of the article, I consider lessons learned and unlearned. I address the implications of reading teacher education as racial text for my own continuing efforts as a teacher educator now working with student teachers find teacher educators in a different urban context (Cochran-Smith et al., 1999; Cochran Smith & Lytle, 1998).

Reading Teacher Education as Racial Text

Reading teacher education as racial text is an analytical approach that draws from three interrelated and somewhat overlapping ideas. First is the idea that teaching and teacher education - in terms of both curriculum and pedagogy - can be regarded and read as "text." Second is the idea that pre-service teacher education has both an explicit text (a sequence of required courses and fieldwork experiences, as well as the public documents that advertise or represent the goals of a given program) and a subtext (implicit messages, subtle aspects of formal and informal program arrangements, and the underlying perspectives conveyed in discourse, materials, and consistency/inconsistency between ideals and realities). Third is the notion that any curriculum, teacher education or otherwise, can and - given the racialist society in which we live - ought to be read not simply as text but as racial text.

Teaching as Text

A number of recent writers have advanced the idea that the work of teaching can be regarded as "text" that can - like any other text - be read, reread, analyzed, critiqued, revised, and made public by the teacher and his or her local community. This assumes that teaching, like all human experience, is constructed primarily out of the social and language interactions of participants. To make teaching into readable "text," it is necessary to establish space between teachers and their everyday work in order to find what McDonald (1992) calls 'apartness." He suggests: This is the gist of reading teaching, its minimal core: to step outside the room, figuratively speaking, and to search for perspective on the events inside. It is simple work on its face, private and comparatively safe, the consequence perhaps of deliberately noticing one's own practice in the eyes of a student teacher, of undertaking some classroom) research, even - as in my case - of keeping a simple journal and doing -.1 little theoretical browsing. By such means, teachers may spot the uncertainty in their own practice. They may spot it, as I did, in unexpected tangles of conflicting values, in stubborn in a surprising prevalence of half-steps. (P. I 1). McDonald suggests that reading teaching collaboratively is difficult and complex, requiring group members to set aside pretensions and fears born of isolation, but also allowing, eventually, for the discovery of voice and a certain sense of unity.

Along related but different lines, I have been suggesting in work with Susan Lytle (Cochran-Smith & Lytle, 1992, 1993, 1999) that communities of teachers use multiple forms of inquiry to help make visible and accessible everyday events and practices and the ways they are differently understood by different stakeholders in the educational process. Oral and written inquiry that is systematic and intentional, we have argued, "transforms what is ordinarily regarded as 'just teaching' - - . into multi-layered portraits of school life' (Cochran-Smith & Lytle, 1992, p. 310). These portraits and the ways teachers shape and interpret them draw on, but also make problematic, the knowledge about teaching and learning that has been generated by others. At the same time, they help to build bodies of evidence, provide analytic frameworks, and suggest cross-references for comparison. Part of the point in McDonald's work, and in ours, is that "reading teaching as text" means representing teaching through oral and written language as well as other means of documentation that can be revisited, 'Researched to use Ann Berthoff's language (Berthoff, 1987) - connected to other "texts" of teaching, and made accessible and public beyond the immediate local context. Using the metaphor "teaching as text" makes it possible to see treat connecting the various texts of teaching in the context of local inquiry communities (Cochran-Smith & Lytle, 1999) can be understood as a kind of social and collective construction of intertextualitv or dialogue among texts. This leads to the second aspect of conceptualizing teacher education as text - examining not only what is explicit (the major text), but also what is not easily visible or openly public (the subtext).

Texts and Subtexts in Teacher Education

As text, teacher education is dynamic and complex - much more than a sequence of courses, a set of field work experiences, or the readings and written assignments that are required for certification or credentialing purposes. Although these are part of what it means to take teacher education as text, they are not all of it. This also means examining its subtexts, hidden texts, and intertexts - reading between the lines as well as reading under, behind, through, and beyond them. This includes scrutinizing what is absent from the main texts and what themes are central to them, what happens to the formal texts, how differently positioned people read and write these texts differently, what they do and do not do with them, and what happens that is not planned or public. Ginsberg and Clift's (1990) concept of the hidden curriculum in teacher education is illuminating here, as is Rosenberg's (1997) discussion of the underground discourses of teacher education. Both of these call attention to the missing, obscured, or subverted texts - what is left out, implied, veiled, or subtly signaled as the norm by virtue of being unmarked or marked with modifying language. Ginsberg and Cleft suggest that: [the] sources of hidden curricular messages include the institutional and broader social contexts in which teacher education operates and the structure and processes of the teacher education program, including pedagogical techniques and texts and materials within the program. Messages are also sent by the ... interpersonal relationships that exist between the numerous groups who might be considered to be educators of teachers. (p. 451)

Along more specific lines, Rosenberg (1997) describes the underground discourse about race in a small teacher education program in a rural area of New England. Rosenberg refers to 'the presence of an absence,' or the figurative presence of racism even in the actual absence of people of color at an overwhelmingly White institution. Rosenberg's characterization of an underground discourse about race connects to the third idea I have drawn upon in this discussion: the necessity of reading teacher education not just as complicated and dynamic text, but as racial text.

Teacher Education as Racial Text

Castenell and Pinar (1993) argue that curriculum can and ought to be regarded as racial text. Their introduction to a collection of essays by that name, Understanding Curriculum as Racial Text develops this argument by locating current curriculum issues within the context of public debates about the canon and about the racial issues that are embedded within curriculum controversies. To understand curriculum as racial text, they suggest, is to understand that : all Americans are racialist beings; knowledge of who we have been. who we are, and who we will become is a story or text we construct. In this sense curriculum - our construction and reconstruction of this knowledge for dissemination to the young - is racial text. (P. 8)

In forwarding this view of curriculum, Castenell and Pinar imply that it is critical to analyze any curriculum to see what kind of message or story about race and racism is being told, what assumptions are being made, what identity perspectives and points of view are implicit, and what is valued or devalued. They acknowledge, of course, that curriculum is not only racial text, but is also a text that is political, aesthetic, and gendered. They argue, however, that it is, "to a degree that European Americans have been unlikely to acknowledge, racial text" (p. 4). In conceptualizing curriculum as racial text, then, they link knowledge and identity, focusing particularly on issues of representation and difference. They argue that, although it is true that 'We are what we know. We are, however, also what we do not know." (p. 4).

Taken together, the three ideas just outlined - that all teaching (including teacher education) can be regarded as text, that teacher education has both public and implicit or hidden texts, and that the text of teacher education is (in large part) racial text - lay the groundwork for the two sections that follow. In these sections I suggest that my colleagues and I - as participants in one teacher education community - struggled to unlearn racism by learning to read teacher education as racial text. In the first section I discuss both the possibilities and the pitfalls of making race and racism central to the curriculum by using "up close and personal" narratives, as well as distanced and more intellectualized theories and accounts. Next I show that it is necessary to 'read between the lines,' or to scrutinize closely the implicit messages about perspective, identity, and difference in a curriculum even after race and racism have been made central. Finally I turn to more general issues in teacher education offering brief lessons learned and unlearned when teacher education is regarded as racial text and when narrative is used to interrogate race and racism.

Getting Personal: Using Stories about Race and Racism in the Curriculum

For the teacher education community referred to in the opening narrative of this article, reading teacher education as racial text came to mean making issues of diversity (particularly of race and racism) central and integral, rather than marginal and piecemeal, to what we as student teachers, cooperating teachers, and teacher educators read, wrote, and talked about. Consciously deciding to privilege these issues meant rewriting course syllabi and program materials, reinventing the ways we evaluated student teachers, changing the composition of faculty and staff, drawing on the expertise and experience of people beyond ourselves, and altering the content of teacher research groups, student seminars, and whole-community sessions. For example, in response to the events described above, we worked the following year with a group of outside consultants to plan and participate in a series of 'cultural diversity workshops jointly attended by students, cooperating teachers, supervisors, and program directors. In the next year, we focused monthly seminars for the same groups on race and culture through the medium of story, led by Charlotte Blake Alston, a nationally known African American storyteller and staff-development leader. In the years to follow, we participated in sessions on Afrocentric curriculum led by Molefi Asante; on Black family socialization patterns and school culture led by Michele Foster; on multicultural teaching and Asian American issues in urban schools led by Deborah Wei; on constructing curriculum based on Hispanic children's literature, particularly using books with Puerto Rican themes and characters, led by Sonia Nieto; and on learning to talk about racial identity and racism led by Beverley Tatum. In addition, we offered sessions on using children's cultural and linguistic resources in the classroom and on constructing antiracist pedagogy led by our program's most experienced cooperating teachers - both teachers of color and White teachers - from urban and suburban, public and private, poor and privileged schools in the Philadelphia area. A central part of these activities was "getting personal' about race and racism - putting more emphasis on reading, writing, and sharing personal experiences of racism and digging at the roots of our own attitudes at the same time that we continued to read the more intellectualized, and thus somewhat safer, discourse of the academy. This meant making individual insider accounts (even though not as well known as the writing of the academy) a larger part of the required reading. Along with the usual reading of Comer, Delpit, Ogbu, Heath, and Tatum we began to read more of Parham, Foreman, Eastman, Cohen, and Creighton - all of whom were student teachers, cooperating teachers, and supervisors in our program.

All of us in the community wrote and read personal accounts about race and class that were published in-house in an annual collection we called, 'A Sense of Who We Are.' These were used as the starting point for many class discussions, school-site meetings, and monthly seminars. For example, Daryl Foreman, an experienced cooperating teacher, wrote about her experiences as a child whose mother took her north to Pennsylvania for a summer visit. She wrote about the sights and scenes of 1960s Harrisburg and then turned to one unforgettable experience:

It had been four days since my mother left Harrisburg.... She left us in the warm and capable hands of my aunt. We'd been behaving as tourists. But now, my younger sister and I had to accompany my aunt to work. For years, she'd been employed by a well-to-do White family whom I'd never met....

At four o'clock, I was starving and my aunt informed me that it was -normal' for us to eat in the kitchen while (the family] dined elsewhere.

Before dinner, the woman of the house entered the kitchen offering to set the tables - one in the kitchen and the other in the dining room. She grabbed two sets of dishes from the cupboard. She delivered a pretty set of yellow plastic plates to the kitchen dining area and a set of blue china to the dining room..After dinner she came back and thanked my aunt for the delicious meal, then prepared to feed the dog. She walked toward the cupboard and opened it. Her eyes and hands traveled past the pretty set of plastic dishes and landed on the blue china plates. After she pulled a blue china plate from the cupboard, she filled it with moist dog food and placed it on the floor. He ran for the plate. I shrieked ...

To this day, I'm not sure if I shrieked at the shock of [people] sharing dinnerware with a dog or because the dog got a piece of blue china while I ate from yellow plastic.

David Creighton, a student teacher, wrote about working in an Italian restaurant in South Philadelphia in the 1990s:

"Yo, Dave, what are you anyway;' said Tony Meoli, a waiter in LaTrattoria in South Philadelphia.

'Whaddava mean?" I, the new busboy, said.

'Like, uh, what's your nationality? You know, where are vou from? I mean, you're obviously not Italian.'

Oh. Well. I'm Russian with some German mixed in,' I said.

'Well, just as long as you're not Jewish," said Tony. - We don't like Jews around here."

"Actually, I am Jewish,' I said.

'Oh, sorry, I was just kiddin' you know."

'Don't worry, about it,' I said ...

Creighton went on to describe the culture of South Philadelphia, pointing out the racial and ethnic insulation and the considerable hostility between and among various groups. Then he continued: I had only worked there about four months when at the end of my Sunday night shift I was told with no warning, "We won't be needing you anymore." What?" I said. I felt I had done a good job. No one ever complained about my work. I was always on time, and I was' developing a good rapport with the waiters who often commended me on my efforts. Also, I really needed the money. "Why? I said

'I don't know,' said the bartender.

You know, Dave, Hitler had the right idea for you people, with the gas chambers and all,' said, Joe Piselli only half jokingly. 'One day I'm gonna gas you down there in the kitchen.'

'You know, Joe, Hitler wasn't all that crazy about Catholics either. You woulda been next,' I said.

'Yeah, well at least I ain't no Jew," he said.

"Thank God," I said.

Reading and writing first-person accounts like these as starting points for interrogating unexamined assumptions and practices can evoke a shared vulnerability that helps a group of loosely connected individuals gel into a community committed to dealing with issues of race more openly. Accounts like these can move a pre-service curriculum beyond the level of celebrating diversity, enhancing human relations, or incorporating ethnic studies into the curriculum, positions that are rightly criticized for their focus on ethnicity as individual choice and their limited goal of attitudinal change (McCarthy, 1990, 1993; Nieto, 1999; Sleeter & Grant, 1987) rather than analysis of systemic and institutional structures and practices that perpetuate racism and oppression. As I pointed out above, narratives also have the capacity to contain many of the contradictions, nuances, and complexities that are necessary for understanding the roots and twists of racism and the many ways these interact with the social life of schools and classrooms. But the considerable power of accounts that "get personal" about race is also their pitfall. They can use some people's pain in the service of others' understanding, as I suggest below, and they can also imply that we all similar experiences with racism, experiences that beneath the surface of their details and contexts are the same. Over the years, I have come to realize that this lesson in unlearning racism, which is an especially difficult one to hold onto, helps to explain some of the depth of anger expressed by the student teachers in the story with which this article began.

Stories about Whom? Stories for Whom?

Several of the students of color in the blind vision story related above claimed we had done nothing in the program to help students understand issues of race, that we did not talk about it in "real" ways. Factually, this was not the case. We had read a large number of articles by both White scholars and scholars of color, and we had shared some personal incidents in class and had intellectualized discussions. It is clear to me now, though, that these discussions were framed primarily for the benefit of White students who were invited to learn more about racism through stories of other people's oppression. The stories were not sufficiently linked to larger issues or framed in ways that pushed everybody to learn not regardless of butt with full regard for differences in race, culture, and ethnicity.

I should have learned this lesson a long time ago. I had known it in certain ways even at the time of the incident described in my narrative - my detailed notes indicate that it was one of the points I tried to make to the students after the incident occurred. But for me, as a White teacher educator, it is a lesson that needs to be learned over and over again. Although I thought I had learned this lesson then, I learned it again several years later from Tuesday Vanstory, an African American woman who was a supervisor in the program that year but had been a student in the program years before. We had a difficult discussion about race in our supervisors' inquiry group where we had considered ways to respond to a particularly troubling journal entry written by a White student teacher. In it she had complained about the students of color in the program sometimes separating themselves from the others, sitting together on the perimeter of the classroom and/or not participating in certain discussions. The journal writer used the phrase "reverse discrimination" and questioned how we could ever move forward if everybody would not even talk to each other. Several White members of the supervisors' group voiced somewhat similar concerns. They were genuinely distressed, wanting open conversations and resentful of the figurative as well as literal separation along racial lines of some members from the larger group when certain topics arose.

Vanstory had sat silent for a long time during this discussion, then finally burst out and demanded, "But who are those discussions for? Who do they really serve?" There was silence for a while and then confusion. She wrote to me that same day about the discussion:

I must say that I was very upset after today's supervisors' meeting. There's nothing like a discussion on' race, class, and culture to get my blood boiling, especially when I am one of a few who is in the "minority.' Believe me, it is not at all comfortable. I really wanted to say nothing. I didn't want to blow my cool. I wanted to remain silent, tranquil. Instead I spouted off in what felt like a very emotional and, at times, a nonsensical response....

I ran across a sociological term a few years ago: "master status." It is the thing you can never get away from, the label that others give you that they won't ever release and they won't let you forget. Can you imagine the constant confrontation of the issue of race permeating every day of your life for one reason or another? (Over representation or under representation of people who look like you do in whatever arena, the blatant inequities in quality of life for the masses - educational opportunities. housing, ability to pass down wealth or privilege, the stinging humiliations that come from the months or pens of others who may or may not be well-intentioned, IQ scores being thrown in your face, etc.). It is reality for us. It is not a discussion, not a theory. It is flesh and blood....

And to come to school and have to play 'educator' to the others who want to discuss race or understand, or release some guilt, or even in a very few cases, people who want to see a real change ... It gets tired ...

Marilyn, I think that vou are very brave and genuine to ask the tough questions that you ask yourself and your White students. But the truth is, your perspective, your reality does not necessarily reflect ours.

In Teaching to Transgress (1994), bell hooks makes a point remarkably similar to Vanstorv's. Although hooks is discussing White feminist writers rather than teachers or teacher educators as Vanstory was, her comments contribute to a larger argument about the necessity of rethinking pedagogy in the current age of multiculturalism:

Now Black women are placed in the position of serving White female desire to know more about race and racism, to "master' the subject. Drawing on the work of Black women, work that they once dismissed as irrelevant, they now reproduce the servant-served paradigms in their scholarship. Armed with new knowledge of race, their willingness to say that their work is coming from a White perspective (usually without explaining what that means), they forget that the ver), focus on racism emerged from the concrete political effort to forge meaningful ties between women of different race and class groups, This struggle is often completely ignored. (pp. 103-104)

I am convinced that reading and writing accounts about race and racism that get personal, as well as reading more intellectualized arguments about these issues, is vital to pre-service teacher education. As I have tried to suggest, however, reading teacher education as racial text reveals that this is also a complex activity that is fraught with problems. Compelling personal stories often evoke a ,strong sense of empathy for others (Rosenberg, 1997), a false sense that all of us have experienced hurt and frustration varying in degree but not in kind, that all of us underneath have the same issues, that all of us can understand racism as personal struggle, as individual instance of cruelty, discrete moment of shame, outrage, or fear. In addition to using some people's experience in the service of others' education, then, personal narratives can also obscure more direct confrontation of the ways that individual instances of prejudice are not all the same - that some are deeply embedded in and entangled with institutional and historical systems of racism based on power and privilege, and some are not. Reading teacher education as racial text means trying to make issues of racism central, not marginal, and close and personal, not distant and academic. But it also means helping all of the readers and writers of such stories understand that schools and other organizational contexts are always sites for institutional and collective struggles of power and oppression (Villegas, 1991), not neutral backdrops for individual achievement and failure (McCarthy, 1993). And it means being very careful about what is said after stories are told and considering carefully whose stories are used in whose interest.

The foregoing discussion is not meant to suggest that racism was or should be the only topic in the teacher education curriculum or that everything else is secondary. I am not suggesting here that student teachers and their more experienced mentors should talk only about racism or that if we learn to talk about race and racism constructively, we do not need to learn anything else in the teacher education curriculum. It is a problem, for example, if there is no time in courses on language and literacy in the elementary school to explore and critique process writing, basal reading programs, whole language, phonics instruction, and standardized and nonstandardized means of assessing verbal aptitude and achievement. But issues of language, race, and cultural diversity are implicated in and by all of these topics, as I discuss in the next section of this article, and it is a fallacy to assume that there is a forced and mutually exclusive choice in pre-service education - emphasizing either pedagogical and subject matter knowledge or knowledge about culture, racism, and schools as reflections of societal conflicts and sites for power struggle.

Reading Between the Lines: Perspectives, Identity, and Difference

Understanding curriculum as racial text requires thorough scrutiny of implicit perspectives about race and careful attention to issues of identity and difference (Castenell & Pinar, 1993). In teacher education this means not looking simply at a synopsis of the "plot" of a pre-service program (to carry the text metaphor further). It also means examining the roles of starring and supporting characters and analyzing the plot line by line, as well as between the lines, for underlying themes and for the twists and turns of the stories told or implied about race, racism, and teaching.

Following the events recounted in the "blind vision" story, our teacher education community attempted not only to make issues of race up close and personal, but also to "read between the lines" of the curriculum. As director of the program and instructor of core courses on language, learning, and literacy, I had earlier examined class discussions that explicitly dealt with racism and teaching, as well as the essays and projects my students completed (see Cochran-Smith, 1995a, 1995b). In these analyses, I had tried to understand how student teachers constructed issues related to race and racism and how they linked these to their roles as prospective teachers. I had also looked at how I constructed the issues and how I linked them to my role as teacher educator and mentor. But at this point, as part of our group's larger, more intensive efforts, I wanted to look further - between and underneath the explicit lines that narrated my courses. I wanted to get at the implicit it, more subtle perspectives by scrutinizing what is included what is omitted from readings and discussions, how issues were sequenced and juxtaposed with one another, which messages are consistent and fundamental, and - inevitably which were not. To do so, I used as data the evolution of course syllabi, assignments, and activities, as well as students' responses, class discussions, and my own detailed notes and reflections on three required courses I taught (a two-course sequence on reading and language arts in the elementary school and a course on children's literature). All three were designed to explore the relationships of literacy, learning, and culture and their implications for the teaching of reading, writing, literature, and oral language development.

What I found was in one sense exactly what I expected to find. Over the years we had increased the amount of time and attention we gave to questions of culture, race, and racism. In fact, these issues had become a central theme of my courses and of the program in general. But what I found when I read between and under the lines of the curriculum as racial text was a contradiction. On the one hand. the first part of the course presented heavy critique of the inequities embedded in the status quo and of the ways these were perpetuated by the current arrangements of schooling. On the other hand, the latter part of the course privileged pedagogical perspectives drawn from theories and practices developed primarily by White teachers and scholars of child development, language learning, and progressive education. There was as well an underlying White European American construction of self-identity and other, of 'we" and 'they."

White Theory, White Practice

My courses were intended to help students think through the relationships of theory and practice, learn how to learn from children, and construct principled perspectives about teaching and assessing language and literacy learning. Two themes ran throughout that were not about literacy and literature per se but were intended to be fundamental to these courses and to the entire program: 1) understanding teaching as an intellectual and political activity and the teacher as active constructor (not simply receiver) of meaning, knowledge, and curriculum; and 2) developing critical perspectives about the relationships of race, class, culture, and schooling.

A between-the-lines analysis revealed a sharp contrast in the subtle messages my courses projected about these two themes. The notion of teacher as a constructor of meaning and active decision maker was consistent. Readings and class discussions conceptualized the teacher as knowledge generator, as well as critical consumer of others' knowledge, as active constructor of interpretive frameworks as well as poser and pondered of questions, and as agent for school and social change within local communities and larger social movements. Student teachers were required to construct (rather than simply implement) literature and literacy curriculum, critique teachers' manuals and reading textbooks according to their assumptions about teacher and student agency, and function as researchers by treating their ongoing work with children as sites for inquiry about language learning access and opportunity. Research and writing by experienced teachers from the local and larger inquiry communities were part of the required reading for every topic on the syllabi.

In addition, the knowledge and interpretive frameworks generated by teachers were regarded as part of the knowledge base for language and literacy teaching. They were not mentioned only when the topic was teacher research itself or when the point was to provide examples of classroom practice or of the application of others' ideas. Guest speakers included teachers as often as university-based experts. Teachers' ways of analyzing and interpreting data, creating theories, assessing children's progress, and constructing and critiquing practice (Lytle & Cochran-Smith, 1992) were foregrounded and valued as much as those generated by researchers based outside classrooms and schools. In addition, in multiple assignments in my courses, students were required to alter and analyze conventional curriculum and pedagogy based on systematic data collection about teaching and learning. They were prompted to challenge conventional labeling and grouping practices, and they were invited to be part of teacher-initiated alternative professional development groups struggling to 'teach against the grain" (Cochran-Smith, 1991). Reading between and under the lines exposed little discrepancy, with regard to teachers' roles as knowledge generators and change agents, between the texts and subtexts of the curriculum.

By contrast, the same kind of close reading with regard to critical perspectives on race and racism led to different and more troubling insights. In my two-semester language and literacy course, a major segment early in the syllabus had to do with-race, class, and culture. For this segment students read selections by the well-known scholars mentioned earlier, as well as personal narratives written by members of the local and larger teacher education communities. Spread over three to four weeks, this portion of the course emphasized the following: both schooling systems and individuals' school experiences are deeply embedded within social, cultural, and historical contexts, including institutional and historical racism; European perspectives are not universal standards of the evolution of higher order thought, but culturally and historically constructed habits of mind; and the standard 'neutral" U.S. school and its curriculum have been generated out of, and help to sustain, unearned advantages and disadvantages for particular groups of students based on race, class, culture, gender, linguistic background, and ability/disability. Described in detail elsewhere (Cochran-Smith, 1995b), this part of the course gave students the opportunity to 'rewrite their autobiographies" or reinterpret some of their own life stories and experiences based on new insights about power, privilege, and oppression. This part of the course also prompted students to 'construct uncertainty" - that is, to pose and investigate questions of curriculum and instructional strategies informed by their experiences as raced, classed, and gendered beings and contingent upon the varying school contexts and student populations with whom they worked.

The remainder of the course was organized around major topics in elementary school language and literacy: controversies about learning to read and write (including child language acquisition, whole language as a theory of practice, basal reading approaches, reading groups, and phonics instruction); teaching reading and writing in elementary classrooms (including emergent literacy and extending literacy through reading aloud, language experience, literature study, process writing, journals, and other activities and strategies); and interpretation and use of assessments in language and literacy (including standardized tests and alternative assessments such as portfolios, informal reading inventories, and holistic assessments). For each topic, underlying assumptions about the nature of language, children as learners, teaching and learning as constructive processes, and classrooms/ schools as social and cultural contexts were identified and critiqued.

The pedagogy that was advocated was more or less "progressive," "whole language,' 'developmental," and 'meaning-centered,' with emphasis on children as readers and writers of authentic texts and the classroom as a social context within which children and teachers together construct knowledge. There was a distinct bias against skills-centered approaches that taught reading and writing in isolated bits and pieces using texts and exercises constructed specifically for that purpose. Instead it was emphasized that language skills emerged from authentic language use and from instruction within the context of language use.

Reading between the lines forced other realizations. The pedagogy I advocated was drawn from theories and practices developed primarily by White teachers and scholars. The prominent names on this part of the syllabus were revealing - Dewey (1916), Britton (1987), Berthoff (1987), Graves (1983), Calkins (1991, 1994), Edelsky, Mtwerger, and Flores (1991), Dyson (1987), emphasizes teachers' ties to the school community, teachers' belief in the learning ability of all children (not just an exceptional few who, through education, can make their way 'out" of the lives common to their parents and community members), and teachers' strategies for establishing personal connections with students and helping them connect new knowledge to previous experiences and ideas.

When I revised my language and reading courses, Ladson-Billings's The Dreamkeepers was one of the central texts, and I included in discussions about reading/writing pedagogy many other readings about culturally relevant language pedagogy (e.g., Au & Kaivakami, 1994; Ballenger, 1992; Foster, 1993). In addition to readings about language and literacy theory, debates about pedagogy, and so on, new additions were intended in part to alter the curriculum as racial text. Particularly, they were intended to provide frameworks for understanding successful and unsuccessful teaching of poor and privileged White children and children of color - frameworks that were not dichotomous and that included but were more complex than whole language versus basals. These were also intended to prompt more attention to issues of community, as well as richer and more diverse perspectives on pedagogy, skills, and explicit versus implicit instruction (Delpit, 1988). 1 also wanted to diminish the implicit subtext of criticism of teachers who worked successfully, particularly with children of color, using methods other than those that might be termed "progressive" or "whole." Including these new readings also made the course more complicated and made its underlying conception of teaching as an uncertain activity (Dudley-Marling, 1997; McDonald, 1992) even more pronounced than it had been. Always eschewing the possibility of "best practices" that cut across the contexts and conditions of local settings, I had for years told students that the answer to most questions about "the best' ways to teach something was 'it depends" (Cochran-Smith, 1995b). Having uncovered unintended contradictions in the lessons I taught my students made me realize that pedagogical decisions "depend' on an even wider, richer, and more nuance array of variables and conditions than I had implied.

Identity and Difference: We and They

Understanding the racial narrative that underlies a curriculum is a process that requires intense self-critical reflection and analysis, as Castenell and Pinar (1993) have made clear:

Debates over what we teach the young are also - in addition to being debates over what knowledge is of most worth - debates over who we perceive ourselves to be, and how we will represent that identity, including what remains as 'left over,' as 'difference.' (p. 2)

Reading between the lines of my own courses and of the larger teacher education curriculum revealed a White European American construction of self-identity and "other." "We," I came to realize, often referred not to "we who are committed to teaching elementary school differently and improving the life chances of all children," but to "we White people (especially we White women) who are trying to learn how to teach people who are different from us.' On the one hand, it could be argued that this perspective is exactly what is needed, given the demographic disparities, now well documented (National Education Goals Panel, 1997; Quality Education for Minorities Project, 1990), between the racial composition of the group entering the nation's teaching force (more than 90% White European American) and the nation's schoolchildren (increasingly a wide array of racial, cultural, and language groups). In elementary education, in addition to being White and European American, the group entering the teaching force is also overwhelmingly female. In a certain sense, then, one could make a persuasive case that a White European American and female construction of self and other is just what the pre-service teacher education curriculum ought to have. On the other hand, the program I directed had 20-25 percent students of color and 15-20 percent male students. A curriculum for "White girls" was surely not the answer. Rather, we were committed to constructing a curriculum that helped all student teachers - with full acknowledgment of differences in race, culture, and gender - interrogate their experiences, understand schools and schooling as sites for struggles over power, and become prepared to teach in an increasingly multiracial and multicultural society. To do so, we had to revise the story that curriculum told about identity and rewrite the characters who were central in that story, particularly who 'we and they,' self and other," 'regular and left over' were.

One incident from my course on literature for children, which I have taught in various iterations for more than twenty years, provides an example of the ways I tried consciously to alter the assumed definition of self and other, we and they, in my courses. What I wanted to do was to construct discussions where "we and they" shifted away from 'we White people who are trying to learn to teach those other people - those people of color' and toward we educators who are trying to be sensitive to, and learn to teach, all students - both those who are different from us and those who are like us in race, class, and culture." I began to use Lynne Reid Banks's The Indian in the Cupboard (1981) as one of the six or eight novels my students read in common for the literature course. My course had for years included many children's books that were highly regarded for their portrayals of the perspectives of African American, Asian, and Hispanic family and childhood experiences (Harris, 1993), and the course had for years focused on the politics of children's literature (Taxel, 1993). The point of adding The Indian in the Cupboard was not to add 'the Native American experience" to the list of cultures represented in the course. Rather, the point was to create an opportunity to prompt an altered conception of self and other, an altered sense of who "we" were as teachers.

Published in 1981, when the New York Times called it "the best novel of the year,' The Indian in the Cupboard continues to be highly acclaimed and widely used as a whole-class text in upper elementary and middle schools, and its popularity has increased since it was made into a Disney motion picture. A fantasy about Omri, a British boy who receives as a present a collector's cupboard, the book revolves around a plastic Indian figure who comes to life (but remains three inches high) when the boy casually places him inside the cupboard and closes the door. A toy cowboy and soldier eventually come to life too and interact with the Indian and the boy. The book is charming in many ways, well written and pivoting on premises that are extremely appealing to children - being bigger than adults, having toys come to life, and keeping a powerful secret. But in addition to positive reviews about the popularity of the book and the high quality of its writing, the book has also been criticized as racist, perpetuating stereotypes about Native Americans at the same time that it charms and appeals. The first year I used the book, all of my students were prospective teachers, many of whom were just completing a year of student teaching in urban schools where the population was primarily African American, Asian, and/or Puerto Rican. I asked the class to read the novel and jot down their responses and then read the critical commentary I had assigned.

In an excoriating critique of images of Native Americans in children's books, MacCann (1993) argues that the vast majority of children's books with Native American characters or themes are written from a non-Native perspective. With few exceptions, they portray Native American cultures as futile and obsolete and turn on the "persistent generalization' that American society has been 'shaped by the pull of a vacant continent drawing population westward' and available to any enterprising European (p. 139). About The Indian in the Cupboard specifically, MacCann writes:

Even in the fantasy genre the displacement of American Indian societies can be

an underlying theme, as in The Indian in the Cupboard [Banks, 1986} and its sequel The Return of the Indian (Banks, 1986]. These narratives are set in modern times . . . but the cultural content is rooted in the image of the Indian as presented in Hollywood westerns and dime novels. Little Bear is a plastic toy Indian who comes to life in the boy's magical cupboard, but remains just three inches in height. He grunts and snarls his way through the story, attacking the child, Omri, with a hunting knife, and later attacking a traditional enemy, a three-inch cowboy. At every turn of plot, Little Bear is either violent or childishly petulant until he finally tramples upon his ceremonial headdress as a sign of remorse. The historical culpability of the cowboy and others who invaded [Native American] territory is ignored. Native Americans are seen as the primary perpetrators of havoc, even as they defend their own borders. (p. 145)

In Through Indian Eyes (Slapin & Seale, 1992), a collection of articles written primarily by Native Americans, the review of The Indian in the Cupboard and its sequel is also wholly negative. It concludes: My heart aches for the Native child unfortunate enough to stumble across, and read, these books. How could she, reading this, fail to be damaged? How could a White child fail to believe that he is far superior to the bloodthirsty, subhuman monsters portrayed here (p. 122)

My students read these critiques after they had read and responded to the novel and came to class prepared to discuss both. Most of my students reported that they were completely engrossed in the unfolding story, and some were shocked by the negative critiques and even embarrassed that they had not noticed the racist overtones (and undertones) until after they finished the book. Many were uncertain about what to think. The discussion was intense and animated:

The book is full of stereotypes. If a book has stereotypes, does that mean you just shouldn't use it in your classroom;

There are lots of stereotypes about Indians, but there are also stereotypes about cowboys and soldiers - doesn't this make the book sort of balanced'-

The very idea of an American Indian adult as the possession (and a miniature possession at that) of a White English child is totally offensive and off-putting - does it really matter what else the book does or doesn't (to?

Since the boy's wrong assumptions about Indians are for the most part pointed out and corrected by the narrator as the story goes along, doesn't it actually sort of "teach" some correct facts;

In the final analysis, isn't what really matters how engaging the story is for kids and what the quality of the writing is?

How can we evaluate the realism of the characters in a story that is obviously fantasy rather than history or biography?

Since none of us had any Native American children in the classes we student taught this year, does that make the issue of potentially hurting a Native child reader irrelevant?

Students were divided about what they thought of the book. Many saw it as more or less harmless, assuming that those who considered the book racist were self-interested extremists, interested only in what was "politically correct," or manufacturing problems where there were none. Others strongly disagreed, assessing the book as promoting shallow stereotypes with little redeeming social value. At some point in this very intense discussion, I inserted, 'What if it were The Jew in the Cupboard or The Black in the Cupboard? Would that be all right?" For a few minutes there was dead silence. The looks on the faces of my students, many of whom were Jewish, African American, or Hispanic, indicated that it would decidedly not be all right to have a children's book with those titles or those story lines. Why then, I asked, was it all right for elementary and middle school teachers each year to teach to the whole class a children's book that had an Indian in the cupboard?

This was a turning point in the course, one that prompted some of the best discussion of the semester. Several students, African American and Hispanic, talked about how this opened their eyes to racism in a different way. They admitted that they had never worried too much about 'Redskins" and tomahawks as symbols for sports teams, or grotesque caricatures and cigar-store Indians as icons for margarine, sports utility vehicles, and blue jeans. The discussion about race and racism changed that day. For a while everybody seemed to have new questions, and nobody seemed as sure as they had been about the answers. I believe this was because in this discussion there was a different underlying construction of identity and difference, an altered perspective on what was assumed to be the standard from which we defined 'regular and different,' 'self and other.' When 'other' was Native American and . self' everyone else in the room, there were new opportunities for students to interrogate their assumptions, new opportunities to struggle with the issue of what it means to teach those who are different from and the same as our multiple selves.

Telling the story of what happened when I added The Indian in the Cupboard to my course is in no way intended to suggest that all we have to do in teacher education is figure out who is "not in the room" and then construct that person as the "other," that all we have to do is be certain to include in the curriculum fictional or research literature about racial or cultural groups that are not actually represented in a given teacher education program. That is not at all the point here. Nor is the point to claim that this kind of "inclusion" would be desirable or even possible. The point I do wish to make is that it is critically important to scrutinize the often very subtle messages about identity and difference that float between the lines of the curriculum and consciously work to construct opportunities in which all the members of the community are able to interrogate their constructions of self and other. As I have argued already, however, these opportunities must always be connected to larger understandings of the histories of oppression and privilege and must always be couched in understandings of institutional and organizational racism.

Conclusion: Lessons Learned and Unlearned

What are the lessons learned here about unlearning racism? One has to do with the power of narrative in teacher education and, as importantly, the power of teacher education as narrative. As I have tried to show throughout this article, both the personal and the fictional stories about race and racism that we invite participants to read and write can break down the barriers of distanced, academic discourse and make possible revelations about participants' positions, identity, and standpoint. Stories can serve as touchstones for shared experience and commitment. As one primary way we understand and construct our professional lives and our multiple identities, stories can help us scrutinize our own work and theorize our own experience. But stories can also be extremely negative, particularly when the stories of some groups are used - unintentionally or not - in the service of others' desire to learn and/or when powerful emotions are unleashed and participants are then left to fend for themselves in the aftermath. Stories can be negative if they prompt a false sense of sameness and personal empathy that is unconnected to historical and institutional racism, to schools as sites for power struggles, or to ownership of the roles privilege and oppression play in everyday life. It may also be the case that there are some stories that individuals should not be coaxed to share in mixed racial groups and some that group leaders should not attempt to solicit. Finally, it must be understood that the narratives we use as tools and texts in the teacher education curriculum confound and are confounded by larger and more deeply embedded messages, messages that are revealed only when the curriculum is interrogated, or consciously read as racial text.

The second lesson is connected to the title of this article, which implies two contradictions: blind vision, a phrase that suggests simultaneous seeing and not seeing; and "unlearning," a word that signifies both growth and the undoing or reversing of that growth. These contradictions are intentional, chosen not only to signal the enormous complexities inherent in the ways race and culture are implicated in teaching and teacher education, but also to caution that blindness is an inevitable aspect of trying to act on a vision about including racism in the teacher education curriculum, that failing is an inherent aspect of unlearning racism. I am completely convinced that . reading the curriculum as racial text,' in the sense that I have described it in this article, is critical to a vision for pre-service education. But I am also convinced that this is a slow and stumbling journey and that along the way difficulty, pain, self-exposure, and disappointment are inevitable. To teach lessons about race and racism in teacher education is to struggle to unlearn racism itself - to interrogate the assumptions that are deeply embedded in the curriculum, to own our own complicity in maintaining existing systems of privilege and oppression, and to grapple with our own failure.

Nikki Giovanni's "A Journey' (1983, p. 47) eloquently conjures up the image of blind vision that I wish to connect to the idea of the learning racism. I conclude this article with her poem:

A Journey*

It's a journey . . . that I propose ... I am not the guide ... nor

technical assistant . . . I will be your fellow passenger . . .

Though the rail has been ridden ... winter clouds cover ...

autumn's exuberant guilt ... we must provide our own guideposts ...

I have heard from previous visitors ... the road washes out

sometimes and passengers are compelled ... to continue

groping . . . or turn back I am not afraid . . .

I am not afraid of rough spots or lonely times ... I don't fear ... the success of this endeavor

I promise vou nothing

I accept your promise ... of the

same we are simply riding a wave ... that may carry or crash ...

It's a journey and I want ... to go ...

'A journey" from 'Those Who Ride the Night Winds by Nikki Giovanni. Copyright @D 1983 by Nikki Giovanni. Reprinted by permission of Harper Collins Publishers, Inc.

Article Found in : Harvard Educational Review, vol. 70, no. 2 (Summer 2000) : 157-189.

Developing Alternatives to Tracking and Grading by Jeannie Oakes, Martin Lipton

Tracking includes a whole range of ability-related grouping practices in elementary and secondary schools. Though specific practices differ widely, they all organize schools so that students who appear to be similar in their educational needs and potential can be taught together, and taught separately from other students. Tracking is closely connected with testing, since many tests were created during the (early part of the century precisely to sort students into different tracks. Even now, tracking is, in part, both the result of and the reason for much of the testing that takes place in schools. There is no question that tracking, the assessment practices that still supports it, and the differences in educational opportunity that result from it limit many minority students schooling opportunities and life chances. Schools relying heavily on test results to form and legitimate their judgments about students intellectual capacities determine that African American and Latino students. far more than others, have learning deficits and limited potential. Not surprisingly, then, schools place these students disproportionately in low-track, remedial programs that provide them with restricted educational opportunity.

But just as testing and tracking are inextricably linked to each other, so are they linked to all of the other dimensions of schooling that affect students opportunities and achievement. Tracking and testing are two problematic school structures that support and are supported by much else that is wrong with schools-low expectations for many students; thin, skills-based curricula; and passive, teacher-dominated instructional strategies, to name just a few. It follows, then, that any effective solution to tracking requires attention to these other conditions. Regrouping students into heterogeneous classrooms is necessary but not sufficient to solve these problems. What is needed is a comprehensive set of mutually supportive changes that include new ways of thinking as well as new practices. Such changes are not only solutions in the sense of a technical "fix" for the tracking problem; these are promising directions for reinventing schools generally-schools where tracking would not make sense. Effecting such far-reaching change is no easy matter. Testing and tracking are well entrenched, not only as educational practices intended to help schools to identify and address differences in how quickly and easily students learn, but also as a societal mechanism for sorting students and preparing them for future schooling (if they are thought to be suited for it) and for the adult occupations they will assume. Both functions have legitimacy in and outside of schools. Thus, changing tracking and the tests that support it must include a strategy that engages schools and communities in rethinking basic school purposes. Simply concentrating on how to make schools more technically "effective" misses the point if schools purposes are misguided. Schools already are effective at much of what they attempt: sorting, limiting the best opportunities to a few, and so on. A successful strategy to examine school practices and purposes must be slow, incremental, inclusive, and artfully orchestrated. In the following sections, we elaborate a cultural view of tracking and testing problems and examine some promising strategies for making schools places where the status quo of testing and tracking no longer make sense.

The Problem

From their earliest school years, African American and Latino students are consistently over represented in low-track, remedial, and special education programs. Educators justify these placements by pointing out that children from these groups typically perform less well on commonly accepted assessments of ability and achievement. Moreover, conventional school wisdom holds that low track, remedial, and special education classes help these students, since they permit teachers to target instruction to the particular learning deficiencies of low-ability students. However, research about human capacity and learning suggests that conventional placement tests measure only a very narrow range of students abilities; in particular they provide little information about students higher order cognitive abilities, such as how well they generate ideas or solve problems, or about how well they can accomplish real-world tasks. Furthermore, students do not profit from enrollment in low-track classes: they do not learn better, and they have less access than other students to knowledge, engaging learning experiences, and resources (see Oakes, Gamoran, and Page, 1991, for a review).

Testing and Tracking. As the Twig Is Bent. . .

Testing and tracking often begin prior to kindergarten. Over the past decade, a growing number of local school systems have begun to administer "readiness" tests to select some five-year-olds for the academic demands of kindergarten, others for a less academic pre-kindergarten class, and still others to stay home and wait another year. Many systems use such tests to guide placement decisions about first graders. Because children prior academic learning opportunities have considerable influence on their scores, it is not surprising that children with academically rich preschool and school4ike home environments do better on such tests and are more likely to be judged as developmentally "ready" for "regular" kindergartens and suited for high-ability first-grade classrooms. Thus, these tests place low- income children-a group in which most minority children fit-at a clear disadvantage, since most of them have less educationally advantaged preschool opportunities, and, on average, minority children score less well than whites (Ellwein and Eads, 1990; Ellwein, 1991). Thus, it is no surprise that we find disproportionate numbers of young minority children in special "transitional" classes, in separate programs for "at-risk" children, and in other types of low-ability primary classrooms. Even more troublesome, these "readiness" tests are not sufficiently accurate to be used as a basis for placement decisions. They were not designed to predict whether or not children will succeed in a particular placement, and they do not do it well (Meisels, 1989; Shepard, 1992).

In spite of good intentions, elementary schools do not increase achievement when they divide students into whole classes by ability levels. And, while some limited and flexible regrouping schemes do often yield positive effects on average achievement (particularly plans that increase student mobility between "levels" with a multi grade structure), they also usually increase the inequality of "achievement That is, children in high groups often benefit the most, and those in low groups the least. Over time, then, the achievement gap between high- and Low-group students widens. We have no evidence that the slight positive effect on average achievement is sustained over years of schooling.

Tracking propels children through the system at different speeds-even though, the slower groups have as their goal "catching up." Low groups spend relatively more time on decoding Sider the mean activities, whereas high groups move on to comings of stories and progress farther in the curriculum. High group students do more silent reading and, when reading aloud, are less often interrupted than low-group students. The High group advantage presumably accumulates as the years pass, and students with a history of membership in high-ability groups are more likely to have covered considerably more material by the end of elementary school.

In this way, tracking in the elementary grades determines much of what happens later. Differences in pace through a sequenced curriculum (particularly in mathematics and reading) lead to differences in coverage. Coverage differences result in kids falling, further and further behind and in receiving increasingly different curricula. These differences further stabilize students track placements. Before long, students in slower groups lack the prerequisite curricular experiences needed to qualify (score well on tests) for faster groups or to succeed in faster or higher groups. Moreover, they are likely to have internalized the judgment that they are less able and less likely to succeed, and, as a consequence, are no longer eager to put forth the hard work it might take to do well in a higher-ability class (Rosenholtz and Simpson, 1984).

Secondary School Tracking. ". . . So Grows the Tree"

Early in the middle-school years, there begins an intentional shift away from the goal of propelling kids through the same curriculum at different speeds (with the illogical intention that these students will "catch up"). Instead, middle schools-still relying on slow, special, and remedial classes-change their intention.5 for students. Now, not only is the speed different, so is the direction. Rather than being propelled through the same curriculum at different speeds albeit with much missed by those in slower groups and classes students are pulled intentionally through different curricula toward different "end points": different high schools, different post-high school expectations. Increasingly, these different destinations influence judgments about appropriate placements and course taking. They confront different courses with different names-sometimes prefixed with "basic," "regular, "pre-," "honors," or "gifted"-and clearly different in content and rigor (for example, slower-track students taking a "crafts" elective instead of foreign language). The differentiated curriculum conforms to a larger social purpose preparing students for different failures-and creates even greater curricular differences than would be expected from-n differences in pace and consequent losses in coverage.

As students proceed through middle and high schools, increasingly disproportionate percentages of African American and Latino middle-grade and high school students enroll in low ability tracks (Braddock, 1989; Braddock and Dawkins, 1993-. Oakes, 1990; Oakes, Gamoran, and Page, 1991). For examples Oakes (1990) found that all minority secondary schools enroll far greater percentages of their students in low-track classes compared to all - white schools, and that in racially mixed schools the concentration of minority students in low-track classes is dramatic. For example, 66 percent of the science and mathematics classes with disproportionately large minority enrollments (compared to their representation in the student body as a whole) were low track, compared with only 5 percent of the disproportionately white classes. In contrast, only 9 percent of the disproportionately minority classes were high track, compared to 57 percent of the disproportionately white classes. These findings were echoed in an Educational Testing Service study of the effects of middle school tracking in six minority, urban districts, which found that minority students were over represented in low track math classes (23 percent compared to only 8 percent of the white students) and under represented in high-track classes (36 percent of the minorities compared to 56 percent of whites) (Villegas and Watts, 1991).

In part, these disproportionate placements stem from real differences in minority and white students opportunities and achievements in elementary school-differences that are often a consequence of earlier tracking. These differences-and disproportionate placements are exacerbated by schools reliance on standardized tests in making tracking decisions. Even though such tests underestimate minority students capabilities, they typically carry more weight than information about students past classroom performance or teachers recommendations, particularly when students move into new schools where counselors may have little or no contact with students former teachers (Oakes, Selvin, Karoly, and Guiton, 1992; Villegas and Watts, 1991).

However, even when white and minority students are comparable in their scores on achievement tests, minorities are more likely than their white peers to be placed in lower tracks. Oakes (1995) documents school-by-school and district wide placements in two school systems-Rockford, Illinois, and San Jose, California whose ability grouping and tracking systems were subject to scrutiny in 1993 in conjunction with school desegregation court cases. The data showed that in both school systems, tracking credited racially unbalanced classes in elementary, middle, and senior high schools. This imbalance took two forms: (1) white (and Asian, in San Jose0 students were consistently over represented, and African American and Latino students - were consistently under represented, in high-ability classes in all subjects; and (2) in contrast, African American or Latino students were consistently over represented, while white and Asian students were consistently under represented, in low-ability tracks in all subjects.

In both San Jose and Rockford, placement practices skewed enrollments in favor of whites over and above that which can be explained by measured achievement. As a group, African American and Latino students scored lower on achievement tests than whites and Asians in both school systems. However, African American and Latino students were much less likely than comparably scoring white or Asian students to be placed in accelerated courses. For example, in San Jose, Latino eighth graders with average" scores in mathematics were three times less likely than similarly scoring whites to be placed in an "Accelerated" math course. Among ninth graders, the results were similar. Those Latinos scoring between 40 and 49, 50 and 59, and 60 and 69 Normal Curve Equivalents (NCES) were less than half as likely as their white and Asian counterparts to be placed in accelerated tracks. The discrimination was even more striking among the highest-scoring students. While only 56 percent of Latinos scoring between 90 and 9 NCEs were placed in accelerated classes, 93 percent of whites and 97 percent of Asians gained admission to these classes.

In Rockford, white students whose scores fell within a range that would qualify them for participation in either a higher or lower track (that is, their scores were the same as those of students in the lower track) were far more likely to be placed in high-track classes than were African American students whose scores fell within that same range. Additionally, in a number of schools, Rockfords high-track classes included exceptionally low scoring students; rarely were these students African American. In contrast, quite high-scoring African Americans Were often found in low-track classes; this was seldom the case for high scoring whites. Among several striking examples of skewed placements in Rockfords junior highs was one school where the range of reading comprehension scores among eighth grade in Basic (low-track) English classes was from the Ist to the 72nd National Percentile. Of these, ten students scored above the national average of 50 NP. Six of these high-scoring students were African American, including the highest-achieving student in the class. A seventh was Latino.

Interestingly, both school districts defended their skewed placements as fair, given the proportionately higher mean scores for whites than for African Americans and Latinos. However, these averages simply masked the systematic discrimination against individual minority students in the placement process.

At least two additional and related factors play a role in creating the skewed patten of track placements. One is the pervasive stereotypical expectations that society and schools hold for students of different -racial and ethnic groups that can negatively influence the placement of minority students with marginal test scores (for example, "Latino parents don't care much about their children school achievement and are unlikely to help their children at home"). A second is "politicking" by savvy parents who want their children placed in the best classes. Although such parents are not exclusively white, in most schools white parents, especially middle-class white parents, better understand the inequalities in the school structure and feel more confident that the school will respond positively to their pressure (Oakes and Guiton, 1995; Useem, 1992a, 1992b). Students from different backgrounds sometimes receive different information, advice, and attention from counselors and teachers. While many secondary schools claim that students "choose" their tracks, low track, minority students most often report that others made

decisions for them (Villegas and Watt, 1991).

Low-track courses consistently offer less demanding topics and skills, while high-track classes typically include more complex material. Teachers of low-track classes give less emphasis than teachers of other classes to such matters as basic science concepts, students interest in math and science, their development of inquiry and problem-solving skills, and preparation of students for further study in math and science (Oakes, 1990). It is important to note that these goals need not depend on students prior knowledge or skills. On the contrary, math and science educators increasingly see these goals as essential for all students-regardless of their current skill levels. High-track teachers in all subjects often stress having students become competent and autonomous thinkers. In contrast, low-track teachers place greater emphasis on conformity to rules and expectations (Oakes, 1985, 1990, 1995).

Teaching strategies differ in ways consistent with this pattern of curricular disadvantage. Teachers allocate less time to instruction (as opposed to routines, discipline, and socializing) in low tracks, and learning activities more often consist of drill and practice with trivial bits of information, seat work, and worksheet activities. When technology is introduced in low tracks, it is often in conjunction with low-level tasks, such as computation. Computer activities, for example, often mimic texts and worksheets (Oakes, Gamoran, and Page, 1991). Low-track teachers tend to tightly control students opportunities, activities, and interactions. Furthermore, while these disadvantages affect all the students in minority students may be especially disadvantaged, because teachers may treat them less favorably. For instance, Villegas and Watts (1991) found that in racially mixed, low-track classes, teachers focused their interactions with minority students on behavioral rather than educational concerns (six times more often than with whites), both telling students what to do (three times more often for minorities than for whites) and criticizing them (five times more often).

Since many schools track their teachers as well as their students, low-track students have less exposure to well qualified teachers. While some schools rotate the teaching of low- range ability classes, it is more typical for teachers to jockey among themselves for high-track assignments, or for principals to use class assignments as rewards and sanctions. Such political processes work to the detriment of low-track students, since til(. least well-prepared teachers are usually assigned to low-track students. For example, teachers of secondary low-ability science and mathematics classes are typically less experienced, less likely to be certified in math or science, hold fewer degrees in these subject, have less training in the use of computers, and less often to report themselves to be "master teachers" than their colleagues in upper-track classes. These differences are particularly troublesome for students in schools with large minority and low income populations because these schools have fewer well-qualified teachers to begin with. In such schools, for instance, low-track students are frequently taught math and science by teachers who are not certified to teach those subjects, if they are certified at all (Oakes, 1990).

These track-related differences have pernicious consequences stemming from conceptions and judgments about human capacity and individual differences that connect with students race and social class. The differences are not educationally appropriate adaptations to variation in students learning aptitude, speed, or style-. Not surprisingly, the combination of separating students into different groups and providing different knowledge and learning conditions to these groups affects students aspirations, further schooling opportunities, and achievement. For example, Sanford Dornbush (1994) documents a striking impact of tracking on minority students ability to realize their post-high school aspirations. Dornbush looked separately at the group of students who met three criteria: (1) wished to graduate from a four-year college, (2) expected to graduate, and (3) believed they were in a college-prep program that would prepare them for entrance to four-year colleges. He found that nearly half the disadvantaged minorities in that group were actually not taking the right courses in math and science, compared lo only about 20 percent of non-Hispanic whites and Asians. In mathematics, for example, 50 percent of the African Americans ;and 52 percent of the Latinos in the sample had these track misperceptions. The percentages were far lower for non-Hispanic whites and Asians (29 and 18 percent, respectively), but they were still considerable. With the analysis limited to those student who had scored above the 50th percentile nationally in mathematics on their ninth-grade test, the percentages remained significant. In this latter group, 32 percent of minority students Compared with 12 percent of whites and Asians held a mistaken view of where their high school courses would lead them.

Moreover, Braddock and Dawkins (1993) show that track assignments impact students future learning opportunities in their analyses of the National Educational Longitudinal Study of U.S. students who were eighth graders in 1988 (NELS:88). As tenth graders, those students who were in high-ability groups as eighth graders were the most likely to enroll in college-prep courses, and those who had been in low-ability eighth-grade classes the least likely, independent of such factors as grades, test scores, aspirations, and social background factors. Interestingly, too, students in eighth-grade mixed-ability classes were more likely than comparable peers in low tracks to enter college-prep classes. However, those enrolled in high-ability groups as eighth graders were more likely than their counterparts in mixed ability classes to do so. Similarly, Dornbush (1994) found that the initial high school track placements of students who scored in the middle ranges of achievement in the eighth grade influenced the courses students took throughout their high school years. For example, students scoring in the fifth decibel on eighth-grade tests and who were placed in biology as ninth graders had a 71 percent change of taking physics or chemistry later. In stark contrast, similarly scoring students who were placed in low-level science in grade nine had only a 7 percent chance of enrolling in these advanced courses. In fact, at every Nth hierarchy, students placed level of the eighth-grade achievement in college-track classes far outpaced their peers in later advanced science course taking. Overall, Dornbush and his colleagues found that 85 percent of high school students end up in the same science and math tracks in which they began. Additionally, as much other work has suggested, with levels of achievement. controlled, low-track students feel less challenged, try less hard, do less homework, and say that teachers are less likely to ask them to demonstrate their understanding.

With regard to achievement outcomes, Gamoran (1990) found in a longitudinal study of tracking and the transition between middle school and senior high that about 25 percent of the variance in track-related learning differences was attributable to differences in curriculum and instruction. Additionally, longitudinal analyses of the NELS:88 students show that when students with similar achievement levels in the eighth grade are placed in different tracks, their subsequent achievement diverges. Those placed in higher tracks benefitted; those in the lower track suffered negative effects on learning. Similarly, Oakes (1994) study of San Jose and Rockford schools found a differential effect of tracking; high placement led to achievement gains, and low-track participation had a negative effect on students learning outcomes. In San Jose, for example, students who were placed in lower-level courses consistently demonstrated lesser gains in achievement over time than their comparably scoring peers placed in high4evel courses. These results were consistent across achievement levels: whether students began with relatively high or relatively low achievement, those placed in lower-level courses showed lesser gains over time than similarly situated students placed in higher-level courses. In both systems, achievement differences accrued in the context of the opportunity differences noted earlier. In short, low-track students-disproportionately African American and Latino-get less and learn than their high track peers.

Promising alternatives

Regrouping students into heterogeneous classrooms is necessary but not sufficient to solve the problems of current sorting practices. Rather, what is needed is a comprehensive set of mutually supportive changes that lead to new ways of thinking as well as new practices. The following are some brief descriptions of promising alternatives that both challenge prevailing school norms and incorporate new organizational structures, curriculum, teaching strategies, and other necessary accompaniments to detracking.

New Norms

Schools wrestling with detracking do not adopt an exclusively practical focus on alternatives. They also challenge the philoso1)hies, values, and beliefs that underlie tracking practices and that make detracking such a difficult technical and political matter. Developing new norms concerning intelligence and learning are particularly important.

Current sorting practices are grounded in faulty conceptions that intelligence is global (for example, a single entirely that can be measured by IQ) and fixed quite early either before birth or soon thereafter-and that learning is primarily the accumulation of a linear sequence of knowledge and skills. Also important are historically rooted beliefs about individual and group differences in intelligence and learning.

As long as the capacity to learn is understood, for all practical purposes, as unalterable, and the range in capacity among schoolchildren is perceived as great, tracking will seem sensible. Schools will continue to accommodate differences by separating students by ability and adapting curriculum and instruction accordingly. The fact that learning capacity seems to be unevenly distributed among groups-with disadvantaged minorities exhibiting less-appears to schools to be beyond their control. Thus, schools typically conclude that the disproportionate assignment of low-income and minority students to low-track classes is an appropriate, if regrettable, response.

Alternatives to tracking only make sense when schools seriously entertain new conceptions of intelligence and learning. For example, work by Howard Gardner (1983; see also Gardner and Hatch, 1989) and Robert Sternberg (I 984, 1986; Sternberg, Okagaki, and Jackson, 1990) argues compellingly that intelligence is multifaceted and developmental and that learning is a complex process of constructing meaning. Serious consideration of such work enables schools to give new credibility to popular notions such as "all children can learn," rather than clinging to the limiting interpretation that all children can achieve their very different "potentials." Importantly, because this new knowledge largely discredits the types of tests schools use to assess students "ability"-that is, their "potential" - this work also helps many educators shake the lingering suspicion that minority students are not as intelligent as whites because they tend to score less well. To accompany new practices, then, detracking requires a critical and unsettling rethinking of fundamental and widely accepted educational norms.

New Practices That Embody New Norms

While some successful alternatives to traditional practices may emerge in schools that simply place students in mixed-ability classes and leave everything else the same, there is little to recommend this sink-or-swim approach. For example, altered norms about individual and group differences in learning capacity are unlikely to be sustained if teachers and students lack the working conditions and learning conditions to support them. Successful tracking alternatives do not gloss over the fact that children are different and that they need opportunities to learn differently, than in heterogeneous schools and classrooms. Meeting these diverse needs may required schools to participate in a full agenda of school reform. (For a more detailed accounting of how several current national reform efforts have embodied this agenda, see Oakes and Quartz, 1995.)

Initial steps to achieve successful heterogeneity may be seen as a way to blend previously distinct reforms in curriculum, teaching practices, parent involvement, school organization, and so on. Seen in this much larger context, first steps may be modest. Schools may reconsider the time-the grade or year-in students careers that introducing particular types of experiences is appropriate. In some schools, for example, learning that was thought to be prerequisite to the successful completion of a particular grade (for example, mastery of a common set of basic reading skills in grade one) may give way to longer-term learning goals in ungraded classes (for instance, individual development of literacy between ages five and eight). Practices such as group work, once reserved for elementary school, may become valued in high school. Rigorous conceptual knowledge previously "saved" for high school may reach children much earlier (Oakes and Lipton, 1990).

Students Working Together

The research on and development of cooperative small-group learning strategies, which has roughly paralleled the recent interest in detracking, have produced a body of theory and practice that demonstrates that it is not only possible for students previously in lower tracks to meet high-track standards, it is possible for students previously in the middle and high tracks to meet new, more rigorous standards for intellectual development than what schools have been aspiring to achieve. Furthermore, a consistent finding in cooperative learning research has been that in heterogeneous groups students, whether highly skilled or struggling with the subject, can make gains in achievement and social skills that exceed the gains they would have made in homogeneous groups or classrooms.

Cooperative learning, then, occupies a central spot in many if not most schools efforts to detract students. However, even within the cooperative learning research and development "communities" there may be a tendency to oversell the method and neglect the need for dramatically reconceptualized curricula and lessons. Current curricula undermine the power of cooperative learning to make a difference. While an otherwise ordinary lesson may be enhanced by slight modifications that allow children to work together, some teachers and schools are at work to combine with cooperative learning strategies long-range, complex, multidimensional lessons that stretch the learning challenges for all students while allowing all students to succeed.

Moreover, we have empirical evidence suggesting that African American and Latino children may achieve better when they work with others (Stavin, 1990; Cohen, 1994), particularly when they are working on tasks that focus on whole concepts or real situations rather than fragmented skills or abstractions. (Of course, there is also considerable evidence that these approaches help non-minority students learn as well.) One of the most striking examples of a fully developed cooperative learning strategy is Edward DeAvilas and Elizabeth Cohens conceptually rich, experience-based bilingual science curriculum that has achieved remarkable success with heterogeneous groups of young Latino and Anglo children (Cohen, 1994; Cohen, Kepner, and Swanson, 1995). In their Finding Out Disinbursement to program, groups of students rotate among classroom "centers" at which they work together solving complex science problems. The tasks they engage in also require acquisition of fundamental math knowledge and skills; the interactive process they use promotes the literacy development of both English- and Spanish-speaking children.

Rich, Complex Curriculum

Combining cooperative groups with a thematic or problem solving orientation can provide a rich intellectual, yet concrete, context to help students organize knowledge, construct meanings, and sustain interest. It also acknowledges and attends specifically to the social construction of knowledge-that much learning takes place in a "community of learners" (Shoenfeld, 1988) - and to the necessity of highly developed social skills to accomplish most productive work.

Henderson, Landesman, and Marshall (1992) describe an example of a thematic approach to mathematics instruction for Latino students in detracked classes. They demonstrate how even subject areas thought to be highly sequential and skills based are amenable to a richer and more complex treatment.

The first project taken up in the mathematics classes as part of the Careers theme involved designing and building bridges. Within each of the Theme classes, students were divided randomly into groups of five. These groups then formed construction companies, giving their enterprises names such as The Pajareo Builders, Albert Einstein Co., The Mexican Corporation, Trust Us Co., Inc. Within each company, different career-related roles were assigned by the group to its members. These roles were those of Manager, Engineer, Transportation Officer, Architect, and Accountant. The duties of each career group were explained at meetings of all students assigned to a particular role. All goods needed for construction were purchased from a warehouse. Materials included cardboard (representing land), glue, toothpicks, and so on.

Each company was allotted 1.5 million dollars for its project. Calculating amounts, writing checks, and keeping records of accounts brought arithmetic operations into play. Determining the amount of material needed to construct the bridges involved estimation. Before constructing the bridge, students had to develop their plans on graph paper, drawing figures to scale. This involved measurement. At the next stage students dealt with lengths, perimeters, and areas, to assure the bridge would fit where they wanted it. Next came geometric visualization and discussions of similarity and congruence of figures. Finally, stress tests on the bridge and a discussion of optimal design involved some basic concepts of physics. The finished products, were subjected to stress testing, using weights....

The key mathematical topics (each with myriad subtopics) included in the scope and sequence were 1) addition, subtraction, multiplication and division of whole numbers; 2) decimals; 3) fractions; 4) numbers and number theory; 5) problem solving; 6) estimation; 7) geometry; 8) measurement; 9) ratio, proportion, percent; 10) statistics and probability; II) pre-algebra; and 12) technology [p. 241.

It appears that this large-concept, thematic unit not only allowed for but invited teachers to include additional abstract topics that might not have been written into a traditional grade level scope and sequence, including: "the solving of simple ]linear algebraic equations with one unknown (e.g., 50 x - 600 = 0). Geometry topics ... included material on angles, measurement and the classification of differing degrees, the use of a protractor,

different types of angles. . . equilateral and isosceles triangles and their properties ... rays, parallel lines, perpendicular lines, intersecting lines, transversalis, regular polygons, congruent figures, symmetry, and reflections" (pp. 25-26).

Clearly, the rich and complex lesson partly described above will raise concerns regarding teacher training, curricular coverage, planning time, class size, acceptance of interactive, noisy classes, and much more. Even so, the payoff in terms of students deep and lasting understanding warrants the concerns and costs. Importantly, because this curriculum frames learning tasks as complex problems, provides contexts that give facts meaning, takes students informal knowledge seriously, allows for multiple "right answers, and promotes socially constructed knowledge, it groups of students promises to be much more accommodating of diverse in prior knowledge and skills. More practically, it provides learning opportunities where it is less likely that some student will have to be left behind or that some will be bored because the lessons have been watered down.

Broadening Assessment

The team that developed this thematic approach to mathematics is confident that their observations are consistent with Roland Tharps (1989) findings that hands-on activities combined with complex problem solving are more effective in promoting the learning of low-achieving Latino students than a conventional mathematics curriculum. But how does one assess the learning that results from such rich and complex mathematics lessons? This learning is filled, to be sure, with facts and algorithms but also abounds in sophisticated processes, enhanced intuition, social skills (including leadership), and knowledge of all sorts that could not have been anticipated prior to or even during the lesson, Exclusive reliance on typical terminal testing-that is, paper-and-pencil exams at the end of "units" with numbers and a few contrived "word problems"--could kill much of the value of such a lesson. Typical assessments do not encourage returning to the lesson and clarifying misconceptions experienced earlier, and rarely do they provide feedback at a point in the learning process where the student can or is willing to make use of it. They serve to falsely identify what is "really" important in the lesson (successfully solving numerical problems, getting a good grade, and little else). Because they are expressed as a single score or grade, they result in easy public comparisons and reinforce a classroom status hierarchy that can eventually sabotage successful mixed-ability groups (Cohen, 1994; Cohen, Kepner, and Swanson, 1995). This last is a particularly telling point in light of the consistently lower scores achieved by African

American and Latino students.

Grant Wiggins (1991, p. 10) observes that "learning is authentic and effective when the assessments are authentic." We would propose this blend of authentic learning and assessment: both learning and assessment have occurred when the entire class completes the learning task-when there is no distinction between ending the lesson and successfully completing the lesson.

Going beyond typical assessments toward a blend of authentic learning and assessment may be one of the toughest challenges schools face. The new norms, skills, and professional teaching conditions required for sophisticated new instruction are exactly those needed to assess the complex learning that results. Just as a rich, complex, well-planned lesson allows teachers and students alike to "cover" the curriculum by seizing unanticipated learning opportunities and capitalizing on prior knowledge, that same sensitivity must be employed in student assessment. While there is much interest in process evaluations (watching students work at each step of a problem-solving process), product evaluations that include the results of projects or portfolios, structured observations of students problem solving, and more, it is difficult to imagine how these technologies (arts?) can overcome the habits, politics, and tradition that hold conventional testing, grades, and comparisons in place. Perhaps, for the short range, the most we can hope for is a dual system of assessment where educators and policy makers affirm their commitment and obligation to protect students from the effects of traditional assessments while they educate them with promising authentic evaluations.

Extra Time and Extra Help

Even when schools adopt norms reflecting confidence in all students capabilities, schools are still confronted with the reality that some students need more time and instructional support than others. If detracking schools are not to water down the rigorous curriculum they have in place for high-achieving students, the logical alternative is for them to find ways for students formerly in the lower tracks to meet the rigorous expectations now found only in the high track. Thus, they face the challenge of reconfiguring schedules, course offerings, and staffing patterns to enable all students to get the time and help they need without being removed from heterogeneous classrooms. Most schools find that, once the idea makes sense-once norms change-devising strategies for providing extra time and help is quite easy.

For example, some schools schedule students time with special education or Chapter I resource teachers after school. Others team regular teachers and teachers assigned to categorical programs so that specialized help can be incorporated into the regular classroom. This latter strategy is quite consistent with the intent of the new Chapter I legislation. Other schools employ tutoring programs or peer counseling for after-school helped. Still other schools make available tape-recorded reading assignments so less accomplished readers can participate. Increasingly popular and successful (and effective) are tutorial or "booster" classes that provide a "double dose" of rigorous academic curriculum to help them keep up in their heterogeneous classes (Maclver, 1991). Some schools add extra class periods to their schedules so that students have time to take these courses; others ask students to give up an elective course to free up time for their booster classes.

For example, Parkway South High School, a suburban Missouri school that draws 80 percent of its students from surrounding middle- and upper-middle-class neighborhoods and 20 percent from central-city St. Louis (by virtue of the schools participation in the voluntary metropolitan desegregation plan) has experimented with providing students who are having difficulty in regular English class with an additional "tutorial" class. This tutorial both replaces the low-track "basic" class and prepares students for success in the regular English class-a supremely logical program that provides extra help instead of a watered-down substitute. It also prevents the resegregation of the African American "transfer" students into remedial tracks. In addition, Parkway South has eliminated its ninth- and tenth grade social studies honors classes and replaced them with "blended" social studies classes in which students many contract to earn a weighted honors grade. This program reflects the social studies faculties desire to have a heterogeneous class (in both race and ability level) discuss social issues.

Promising Programs

A few increasingly visible programs demonstrate how new norms and practices can support a culture that provides both access and success for minority students who might otherwise be locked into low-track classrooms. These programs defy tidy categorization as alternatives to tracking. These are programs that have either used their detracking experiences to create school cultures hospitable to a wide range of new practices or that have found that their adoption of alternative practices invites detracking.

AVID is such a program. Conceived by a high school English teacher in 1980 and now widely adopted in San Diego city and county schools, AVID succeeds by providing to underachieving students-especially those from ethnic and linguistic minority backgrounds-massive amounts of social support, including study skills, intensive practice in writing literary, social science, and scientific essays, and intensive tutorials in their course work. They receive campus tours and hear firsthand from college students and professors what college life is like. To build confidence and self-esteem they work in cooperative learning groups. In short, program developers claim that AVID provides students explicit instruction in the hidden curriculum of the school (Mehan, Hubbard, and Villanueva, 1992; Swanson, Mehan, and Hubbard, 1995).

AVID seems to be of sufficient scope and magnitude to sustain itself as a locus for curriculum and organizational changes; it includes subject matter cadres, has incorporated mentor teacher resources, oversees extensive teacher training, and works cooperatively with university researchers who participate in training, program analysis, and evaluation. But it must be noted that AVID is not an isolated program that has been given the responsibility to "take care of a problem while the rest of the educational enterprise is business as usual. The development of AVID over the years has paralleled a broader commitment by San Diego City Schools district administration to increase the access of all students to high-quality curriculum and instruction through the reduction of tracking.

Another large-scale reform effort that promises to reduce the ill effects of tracking on minority students is the Accelerated Schools Project, headquartered at Stanford University. Accelerated Schools for at-risk elementary and middle school students represent an attempt to "create schools that speed-up the learning of such students to bring them into the educational mainstream by the end of elementary school" (Levin, 1991, p. 2). Now

expanding to include middle schools, the Accelerated Schools use an enrichment strategy, rather than remediation, to enable students to succeed in mainstream classrooms. This approach is characterized both by the development of new norms of equity (for example, high expectations for at-risk students that are reinforced by deadlines for making all children in the school academically able) and the development of new curricula and practice (such as curricula that build on students personal and cultural strengths, instruction based on problem-solving and interesting applications, and creative school organization).

Like AVID schools, Accelerated Schools do not see themselves primarily as "track busters." However, they do consider heterogeneous classes as the most appropriate way to educate all children when sufficient supports are in place both in and out of those classes so all students can succeed.

Like the Accelerated Schools program, the Success for All program, developed by researchers at Johns Hopkins University for Baltimore Public Schools, sees ensuring children early competence, especially in reading, as a way to narrow the divergence in students skills by the end of the third grade, thus making heterogeneous classes less daunting to students and teachers alike. "Success is defined as performance in reading, writing, language arts, and mathematics at or near grade level by the third grade, maintenance of this status through the end of the elementary grades, and avoidance of retention or special education" (Madden and others, 1993, p. 1; Slavin and Madden, 1995). Cooperative groups as well as tutoring (often on an as-needed, rotating basis) combined with frequent assessments assure that students do not "fall through the cracks."

AVID, Accelerated Schools, and Success for All are examples of relatively formal, external support systems that provide initial and ongoing help and protection for individual schools to depart from convention and serve at-risk students. But sometimes individual schools are themselves the cornerstones of dramatic change. Sure, they receive help and support, particularly from their central administration and university researchers, but they march to their own drummers and it is outsiders who stand amazed at their achievements. Pioneer Valley Regional Middle School in Northfield, Massachusetts, is such a school:

Eight years ago, a small cadre of teachers at Pioneer Valley Regional School decided it could do more for students by ending tracking.... An ad hoc committee pushing for heterogeneous grouping found a strong ally in the chairman of the school committee, who told them, "Im a product of that school. I was a 5, the lowest track. It took me years to get over it, it hurt so bad."

In its next step, the school held teacher workshops, and faculty from the University of Massachusetts at Amherst taught a course on teaching styles and strategies to prepare the faculty for implementing the changes....

[The] chairman of the English Department was adamantly opposed to the change in the beginning ... [but] decided to give heterogeneous grouping a try after reading the research that showed it furthered things he believed in as a teacher. When he was working with a mixed group of students, he found that neither teaching as he always had nor watering down the curriculum worked with a mixed group of students. The English department decided to "get rid of the concept that the classroom is where you go to be evaluated" and develop a new curriculum around themes...... The first year it bombed." . . . "We did not know what to do. We had always been the center of the class, made the decisions, told the kids how to look at material and judge its quality... The secret ... was to create a situation where everyone learned together, and no one dominated."

They created new structures within the classroom.... Students are paired; an absentee calls his partner to get assignments and the days work. Small groups are formed according to skills. A terrific writer is told his or her job is to help everyone in the group succeed in writing.

[The principal] reports a noticeable change in the school climate since tracking ended. "There are fewer discipline problems, and more kids are engaged in learning. The teachers are doing more exciting things because they cant lecture." The faculty has become so confident about the value of heterogeneous grouping that, backed by a variety of educational groups and corporate sponsors, the school recently sponsored a conference on "Derailing the Tracked School" that drew some 200 participants....

[The principals] caveat to those attending was that derailing tracking "was not a painless process" and is still continuing [Caldwell, 1990, p. 61].

The example of Pioneer Valley shows what can be accomplished within a school community with unity of purpose, emphasizing that this unity and its results have been nine years in their development. However, countless other schools in all stages of change are making similar efforts with partial but encouraging success (see, for example, Wheelock, 1992).

While full-blown projects like those described above provide helpful examples for other schools, they should not be regarded as models to be copied, but as purveyors of a more general lesson. This lesson, we argue, is that creating a culture of detracking is more important than any particular alternatives or implementation strategies a school might attempt. The particulars of detracking vary considerably among schools. (Even the AVID and Accelerated Schools projects observe that the nature and pace of school changes vary enormously.) However, we can also detect commonalties in the cultures of successfully detracking schools. Two such commonalities are readily apparent from the previous discussion:

Recognition that tracking is supported by Powerful norms that must be acknowledged and addressed as alternatives are created

Willingness to broaden the reform agenda, so that changes in the tracking structure become part of a comprehensive set of changes in school practice

While it is convenient to organize this look at detracking into the categories of (1) norms and (2) practices embedded in the larger school reform agenda, each category is seen as inclusive of the other. Some changes in programs and practices are driven by the adoption of new norms. At the same time, sometimes experimentation with new programs and practices can alter old norms. For example, when skeptical parents or teachers discover many benefits and few disadvantages to heterogeneous classes in pilot or experimental programs, they may change their beliefs about individual and group differences in ability to learn. That, in turn, generates enthusiasm for new technologies of curriculum, instruction, and organization consistent with the new beliefs.

Change Strategies: Moving from Problems to Promise

Going a step further, successful detracking also depends on change strategies that are never distant from norms and practice. The medium (strategy) for bringing forth change can never run counter to the message (norms and technology) of change. Schools and communities democratic and inclusive purposes for attending to neglected and ill-served poor and minority youth must be mirrored in democratic and inclusive processes of change.

Again, the Accelerated Schools project provides a useful example of how new norms and practices combine to help move school from problem-creating practices, like traditional assessment and tracking, toward more promising approaches for minority students. While expecting and finding rapid gains in student achievement, the project attends to both norms and technical change strategies grounded in educational research and democratic principles. The project recognizes explicitly that improved opportunities for at-risk children must take place in a culture that welcomes departures from usual school practice. Toward this end, normative changes in the schools include participation, communication, community, reflection, experimentation, risk taking, and trust. These latter drive what the project calls its "capacity-building" elements. These include creating a vision that permeates all school activities; locating decision making about crucial educational matters at the school site; developing an accountability system that monitors process as well as outcomes; providing tangible incentives; providing access to information about options that includes access, to data bases, collaboration with university-based facilitators, school and other agencies, and so on; building processes for open inquiry, discourse, reflection, and deliberation on difficult-to-recognize problems; ensuring central office support; and devising creative and idiosyncratic ways to provide teachers with time for all of the above (for example, one Accelerated School principal teaches a daily aerobics class to students to free up time for teachers to meet) (Levin, 1991).

A closer look at these and other capacity-building elements helps to identify three other characteristics of many other schools that are successfully detracking.

Engagement in a process of inquiry and experimentation that is idiosyncratic, opportunistic, democratic, and politically sensitive

Schools finding some measure of success engage in difficult but fascinating inquiry into their own schools. They experiment with small-scale tracking alternatives of their own design moving and changing where they can, when they can, and with those who are eager to go along. This process is not merely politically well advised; even in the unlikely event that everyone favored detracking, schools could not simply replace tracking with the "correct" alternative.

Detracking requires opening up the dialogue about tracking both inside and outside the school. Some districts and schools convene school community task forces that read research on tracking, assess local practices, and explore alternatives (a recent example is Boston Public Schools). Other school systems collect data about their own grouping structures and course placements and analyze these by race, socioeconomic background, language, gender, and special education status (see, for example, San Diego City five-year data collection effort). Such strategies promote serious consideration of a number of important questions: What are our schools grouping goals, and are they being met by our use of grouping? What is the procedure for placing students into ability groups? Are there ample opportunities for interaction among students from different ability groups? What successful practices are employed within high-ability classes that can be replicated school wide?

Such inquiry-based approaches allow schools to make sense out of their own experiences, to bring competing interests and opinions into the open, and in the process, generate ideas for pilot projects and, eventually, new policies and practice.

Alterations in teachers roles and responsibilities, including changes in the way the adults in the school work together

Serious detracking-just like any significant school reform needs hands-on, practical-minded, experimenting administrators, and it requires philosophical, inquiring teachers. Where changes are occurring, site and district administrators take the time to become immersed in new practices and become familiar with the new roles teachers are being asked to assume. When they do, administrators sense firsthand the full range of school wide alterations needed to support new classroom practice, they can better explain and defend new practices to their communities, and they can more completely assess the effectiveness of the practices. Teachers, on the other hand, must help create new practices and structures-not just implement them. If their roles are reduced to following new sets of teaching protocols or learning new classroom scripts, they are unlikely to be effective-if they adopt the new practices at all.

Moreover, the comprehensive changes that detracking requires almost always triggers significant changes in the way teachers work together. In nearly every school we have encountered teachers report that it is neither technically nor emotionally possible to undertake the shift to heterogeneous grouping in isolation. Teaming is the most common solution, although thin does not necessarily mean that teachers actually teach together-. Sometimes teaming means that teachers at a particular level or of a particular subject pool their resources to create lessons for heterogeneous classes, try them out individually, then collectively assess and revise them for future use. In other cases, teachers form cross-disciplinary teams that share responsibility for a group of students for one or more years. This approach seems particularly useful among middle school teachers, who then are able to make decisions together about their students academic and social needs. Of course, productive working together imposes some demands on the school schedule; it requires additional time-some of which must be provided during the school day.

Persistence over the long haul that is sustained by risk-taking leaders who are clearly focused on scholarship and democratic values

Tracking is entrenched; sensible alternatives are complex, sometimes counterintuitive, usually controversial. In the final analysis, even when alternatives emerge from an inclusive, democratic process of inquiry and experimentation, steering the detracking process through inevitably troubled waters calls for strong leaders who unequivocally and unambiguously-if gently-assert the research and theory and democratic values that support detracking..

At schools we have watched struggle over tracking, we have heard leaders clearly identify specific ways that student success is thwarted by traditions that hold tracking in place. They have openly, often courageously, acknowledged that curricular, administrative, teaching, and other traditions are more powerful than the professions best knowledge of how children actually learn, and that sometimes these traditions are contrary to deeply held democratic values.


Clearly, new ways of organizing schools and the new instructional practices that must accompany them can improve education for low-income and minority students. In searching for examples of better, more equitable organization and instruction (and the norms that underlie them), we have found many schools serving low-income and minority youth that are making progress, though low-income and minority it should surprise no one that "best practice" in this regard (as in most others) is often found in schools that serve advantaged, white students. On the other hand, it may surprise many that advantaged schools are as ripe for testing and tracking reforms as are schools whose disadvantaged students make the problems more serious because they combine faulty notions of r",e with discredited conceptions of ability. Even so, advantaged schools have as many different tracks as disadvantaged schools (although they do have better qualified teachers and proportionately fewer students in the lowest tracks). The very tests schools use to reify the "low ability of low-income and minority children are also used to make subtle but powerful distinctions among white youth in advantaged schools. These schools, too, send strong messages via labels and lowered expectations that most of their students are not-honors, not-gifted, not-the-very-best. Finally, these schools offer low-track instruction dominated by the same kind of low-level curriculum, drill and practice, and lowered expectations that plague less privileged schools.

Why should an advocate for low-income and minority youth be concerned about exposing these practices in schools that are relatively superior? The answer is complex-encompassing both narrow self-interest and broad social concerns. We would like to believe that no other reason is necessary for removing the barriers that testing and tracking create for minority children educational opportunities and attainments than the fact that it is possible to do so. Unfortunately, the nation has a rather poor record of making broad institutional changes on behalf of disadvantaged children. We only have to look to the history of desegregation and Head Start programs to know that such efforts engender, in the worse cases, violent resistance and in the best cases, grudging and stingy compliance. Detracking, carrying with it as it does the specter of within-school desegregation, is unlikely to be well received if it is argued exclusively as a reform on behalf of minority children.

As important, however, is that tracking and the testing that supports it is not an exclusively minority issue, even if minority children are disproportionately harmed by it. These are broad institutional non-ns and practices that affect all children. As noted above, most of the children stigmatized and disadvantaged by "low-ability"judgments and low-track placements are neither minority nor poor. Advocates for low-income and minority students will most effectively serve their constituents and the rest of society if they place their demands for changes in testing and tracking in the context of seeking better schools for all children.

Images of Teaching: The TIMSS Video Taping Project1

Laurence Wolff, Inter-American Development Bank

Many readers may be aware of the Third International Mathematics and Science Study (TIMSS) of the International Association for the Evaluation of Educational Achievement (IEA). This study showed that, especially in eighth and twelfth grades, US students were far behind their competitors in Europe and the Far East in mathematics and science achievement. The few developing countries that participated in the program, such as Colombia and South Africa, scored at the bottom. But readers may not be aware that, in an effort to understand what was happening in the classroom, the TIMSS researchers undertook to video-tape actual eighth grade mathematics lessons in the US, Germany, and Japan. One hundred randomly selected classrooms in Germany, 50 in Japan, and 81 in the US were videotaped. Subsequently, questionnaires were distributed to the teachers who were videotaped. A complex coding system was adopted to identify what teachers were actually doing in their classrooms; to ensure objectivity, coders were also provided with written transcripts and descriptions of each lesson, without identifying the country. This was the first time videotaping had been used to compare cultural differences in teaching. The results are fascinating, but perhaps dismaying, for those hoping for educational reform in the US.


US versus Japanese Classrooms

In the first place it was found that the mathematical content of the US eighth grade lessons lagged by at least a year compared to Germany and Japan; that is, the US eighth grade teachers were teaching concepts which had already been taught in seventh grade in Germany and Japan. But the problem was worse than that, since it was found that teachers in the US were providing fragmented, disjointed lessons, especially compared to the Japanese, whose lessons were far more coherent. The typical US lesson presented a problem, demonstrated a procedure, and then set the stage for students practicing the procedure. The Japanese approach worked at a much deeper level. The problem set the stage for students to work, individually or in groups, on developing solution procedures. In quantitative terms, in the US 96% of seat work time was spent in practicing routine procedures. In contrast in Japan, 41% of the time was spent in practice, 15% in applying concepts, and 44% in inventing or analyzing situations in new ways.

The US teachers described skills that they wanted their students to learn. They seemed to believe that mathematics was mostly a set of procedures and the goal was to help students become proficient executors of the procedures. They regularly intervened whenever students exhibited confusion or frustration. Individual differences among students were considered an obstacle to effective teaching. The activities in each lesson were modular, with few connections among them. Almost one third of US lessons were interrupted in some way. Many US teachers seemed to believe that learning mathematical terms and practicing skills was not very exciting and acted as if student interest would be generated only by diversions outside of mathematics. They often tried to jazz up the lesson by being entertaining or even talking about other subjects.

Japanese teachers acted as if mathematics was a set of relationships between concepts, facts and procedures. These relationships were revealed by developing a variety of solution methods to problems, studying and refining the methods, and talking explicitly about these relationships. In the course of a lesson, students were allowed to make mistakes and then examine the consequences, and rarely would a teacher show students how to solve a problem midway through the lesson. Japanese teachers believed that individual differences were a resource because they provided a range of ides and solution methods for student discussions and reflection. The Japanese treated each lesson much as one would treat a lecture in a university course or a sermon. Lessons were planned as complete experiences, as stories with a beginning a middle, and an end. Their meaning was in the connections between parts. They were never interrupted from the outside.

Professional Development in Japan

Nearly all Japanese schools are engaged in kounaikenshuu – a continuous process of school based professional development, usually three-hour weekly meetings. One of the their most important endeavors is "lesson study," in which teachers develop and implement lesson plans which are critiqued by other teachers. Lesson study is based on long term continuous improvement, with a constant focus on student learning. Through kounaikenshuu, teachers feel that they are contributing to knowledge about teaching rather than simply their own professional development.

Lessons for Educational Reform

Based on the videotaping, subsequent interviews, and the experience of professional development in Japan, the lessons for educational reform are as follows:

1. expect and seek continuous but incremental improvement;

2. focus on student learning goals;

3. focus on teaching, not teachers (e.g., providing teachers with masters or even doctorates may not change how they operate in the classroom);

4. make improvement the continuous work of teachers; and

5. build a system that can learn from its own experience.


To ensure that these changes can happen, the school must be restructured as a place where teachers can learn. In particular the concept of "lesson study" undertaken by the Japanese should be introduced into in-service training.

Videotaping and Educational Change

The TIMSS videotaping study revealed profound differences in pedagogy, which deeply effect how and how much students learn. Based on the methodology, which is in the public domain, any country, state, or district can, through videotaping of a small random sample of classrooms, objectively identify the common classroom practices of its educational system. For the first time a base line for starting the critical process of real classroom change is available.

A separate article in this issue of TechKnowLogia, "Video Technology for Teacher Training: Micro-Teaching and other Adventures," shows how micro-teaching, a decades old method of improving teaching through videotaping, has been a powerful but inadequately used tool for improving teaching. As part of the process of making the school the center where teachers learn, videotaping can also be used within schools, as a means of enabling teachers to critique their colleagues' work and, in the process, develop more effective teaching methods.

1 Based on The Teaching Gap, by James W. Stigler and James Hiebert, 1999, The Free Press, New York; and The TIMSS Videotape Classroom Study: Methods and findings from an exploratory research project on eight grade mathematics instruction in Germany, Japan and the United States, Washington D.C., National Center for Education Statistics, and Kleuwer Academic Publishers, Netherlands, 1999.

TechKnowLogia, November/December 2000

Seeing Color, Seeing Culture

Gloria Ladson-Billings

In second grade my classmates and I all read from the same Dick and Jane basal reader. I was chastised more than once for reading ahead. But during that year, I was also chosen to attend a special reading class. Unlike today's remedial reading classes, that class was reserved for accelerated readers, We were a select group of about five or six students and we went to reading class each day for about thirty to forty minutes. There we read "real' books, not basal textbooks about faraway places and interesting people.

Our teacher was Mrs. Gray, a tall, elegant African American woman who seemed to love children and the idea that she could expose them to new experiences. One Saturday just before Christmas break Mrs. Gray took the class downtown on the subway train to see the dancing fountains and the Christmas displays at John Wanainaker's, Philadelphia landmark department store, I had been in Wanainaker's many times to shop with my mother', but this was the first time I could remember being taken for the express purpose of being entertained. "Now remember,' admonished Mrs. Gray, "when we get downtown people will be looking at us. If you misbehave they're not going to say, look at those bad children. They're going to say look at those bad colored children!' She did not have to tell us twice. We knew that we were held to a higher standard than other people. We knew that people would stare at us and that the stares would come because of our skin color, Despite the "burden of blackness," it was a magical visit. I felt special, I felt important. I felt smart!


In this chapter I discuss the, ways that the teachers in my study see themselves, their students, and their students' parents. With each vignette I attempt to introduce the teachers individually and to share information about them - by way of interview comments and classroom observations - that illustrates their culturally relevant practices. Rather than attempt to show how all of the teachers demonstrate culturally relevant teaching in all of its aspects, I have selected examples that I believe are most illustrative of each aspect.

First, let us begin with a look at the many teachers who are reluctant to acknowledge racial differences or grapple with these and other differences in the classroom.

In her book White Teacher, Paley suggested that teachers must take care not to ignore color. When she moved to an integrated private school, an African American parent confronted her with the "knowledge" that her children were black, and knew they were black, and she wanted that difference to be recognized as a comfortable and natural one. Delpit's review of Paley's book points to this as the beginning of "the journey through acknowledging and valuing differences."

My own experiences with white teachers, both preservice and veteran, indicate that many are uncomfortable acknowledging any student differences and particularly racial differences. Thus some teachers make such statements as "I don't really see color, I just see children" or "I don't care if they're red, green, or polka dot, I just treat them all like children." However, these attempts at color-blindness mask a "dysconscious racism," an "uncritical habit of mind that justifies inequity and exploitation by accepting the existing order of things as given. This is not to suggest that these teachers are racist in the conventional sense. They do not consciously deprive or punish African American children on the basis of their race, but , at the same time they are not unconscious of the ways in which some children are privileged and others are disadvantaged in the classroom. Their "dysconsciousness" comes into play when they fail to challenge the status quo, when they accept the given as the inevitable.

In an earlier study that illustrated this kind of behavior, preservice teachers were asked to explain the economic, social, and educational disparities that exist between white and African American children. 4 Presented with data on African American and white children's life chances, the students were asked three questions: How can you explain these disparities? What are some differing ideological explanations for these disparities? What can schools do about these disparities?

The students' responses to the first question provide some telling insights. Most cited the fact that African Americans had been enslaved as the explanation for their present economic, social, and educational conditions. A few students suggested that African Americans' failure to gain equal opportunities in the society explained the disparities. Only one student offered racism as an explanation.

The belief of the majority of the students that African Americans' enslavement more than a hundred years ago explains today's disparities suggests that they could not envision how conditions could be otherwise. The enslavement of African Americans is a part of history. Thus, according to this view, the past alone determines the future of a people. A more fundamental problem with this point of view in the classroom context is the following: If a teacher looks out at a classroom and sees the sons and daughters of slaves, how does that vision translate into her expectations for educational excellence? How can teachers who see African American students as mere descendants of slaves be expected to inspire them to educational, economic, and social levels that may even exceed their own?

The usual antidote for this persistent view of African American children is for the viewer to pretend that he or she does not see the color that once forced their ancestors into slavery. Thus the teacher claims to be color-blind. However, such claims cannot be valid. Given the significance of race and color in American society, it is impossible to believe that a classroom teacher does not notice the race and ethnicity of the children she is teaching. Further, by claiming not to notice, the teacher is saying that she is dismissing one of the most salient features of the child's identity and that she does not account for it in her curricular planning and instruction. Saying we are aware of students' race and ethnic background is not the same as saying we treat students inequitably. The passion for equality in the American ethos has many teachers (and others) equating equality with sameness. All example may either clarify this point.

In a classroom of thirty children a teacher has one student who is visually impaired, one who is wheelchair bound, one who has limited English proficiency, and one who is intellectually gifted. If the teacher presents identical work in identical ways to all of the students, is she dealing equitably or inequitably with the children? The visually impaired student cannot read the small print on an assignment, the wheelchair-bound student cannot do push-ups in gym, the foreign-language student cannot give an oral report in English, and the intellectually gifted student learns nothing by spelling words she mastered several years ago.

The notion of equity as sameness only makes sense when all students are exactly the same. But even within the nuclear family children born from the same parents are not exactly the same. Different children have different needs and addressing those different needs is the best way to deal with them equitably. The same is true in the classroom. If teachers pretend not to see students' racial and ethnic difference, they really do not see the students at all and are limited in their ability to meet their educational needs.


Although my neighborhood was predominantly African American, a few white families lived there. Most attended Catholic schools. It made sense to us; they were Catholic. One of the neighborhood white boys went to a private boarding school. His father had died and this made him eligible for a private school for orphan boys (I guess a mother's presence did not count in those days). The school he attended did not accept African American boys. (Many years later that school would become a battleground in the civil rights struggle in our city). Only one white family, which consisted of seventeen children, sent their kids to my elementary school. They were extremely poor and often showed up unclean and unkempt. Everyone in the school community knew them and some felt a pang of sympathy for them, for as poor as we all were, we knew we were not quite as poor as they were.

But they seemed to take some comfort in the fact that although they were extremely poor, at least they were not black. Every fight these children ever had came as a result of their calling one of the African American children "nigger." WE had to wonder who or what they thought we were. An what did that make them, since they were resigned to spending six hours of every school day with us?

One dimension of culturally relevant teaching is the teachers' perception of themselves and others. Too often teachers have a poor opinion of themselves and their profession. In contrast, teachers who practice culturally relevant methods not only see themselves as professionals but also strongly identify with teaching. I begin my individual profiles of the teachers in my study with one who exemplifies this quality.

Pauline Dupree is an African American woman who lives in the more affluent white community that borders the district where my study was carried out. She attends an African American Baptist church that many of the students and parents in the some she appears reserved and district attend. To some she appears reserved and humorless but during my two years of study, I found her to be serious and sophisticated. She describes herself as a no-nonsense, no-frills teacher.

Dupree is a slender, attractive African American woman. She is always impeccably dressed in a style that reminds one of a corporate executive. Her outfits always are coordinated; she seems to have a different pair of shoes for each. During our first interview she said that the girls in her class sometimes peek around the classroom door in the morning to see what she is wearing. When one of her students asked why she was always "so dressed up", Dupree replied that she dressed the way she did because she was coming to work and she worked with very important people, so she wanted to look good.

Dupree's classroom' reflects her penchant for neatness. As the saying goes, there is a place for everything and everything is in its place. Despite of the fact that her class is housed in one of the school's smaller portable classrooms, she found a way to utilize the space efficiently and avoid a sense of clutter. Stepping from the boisterous playground into her classroom is like stepping into another world. The students are well behaved and orderly - much like Pauline Dupree herself.

During our interview Dupree commented that she was somewhat dismayed at some of the young white teachers who had come to work in the district. "They come in here dressed like people going to scrub somebody's kitchen. I mean what kind of message do you send the children when you don't care enough to put on clean, pressed clothes?"

Mrs. Harris, my third -grade teacher, was quite a sharp dresser. She wore beautiful high-heeled shoes. Sometimes she switched to flats in the afternoon if her feet got tired, but every morning began with the click, click, click of her high heels as she greeted us up and down the rows. I wanted to dress the way Mrs. Harris did. I didn't want to wear old-lay comforters like Mrs. Benn's and I certainly didn't want to wear worn-out loafers like those of my first-grade teacher, Miss Schwartz. I wanted to wear beautiful, shiny, high-heeled shoes like Mrs. Harris's. That was the way a teacher should look, I thought.

Dupree's thinking about the importance of personal appearance is supported by Foster. In Foster's memoirs of his years as a high school teacher in New York City, he cites several examples of students' recollections of teachers who dressed poorly. Fooster suggests that in minority communities attention to personal appearance and presentation are extremely important. He describes jailed civil rights protestors who urged their lawyers to change from their blue jeans to conservative suits and to trim their long hair into more conservative haircuts so that they would look more like the prosecutor and the judge. Foster also suggests that the worst dressed teachers are white male secondary-school teachers. He believes that their feelings about the low status of teachers contribute to poor self-esteem that translates into little or no regard for how they dress.

This is clearly not the case for Pauline Dupree. She cares very much about the way she dresses. This suggests that she also cares about the people she works with and about her profession. Being a teacher is a special calling for her.

Dupree tells her fourth-grade class about teaching as a worthwhile profession.

DUPREE: HOW many of you think you'd like to be teachers when you grow up' (A few students raise their hands, all of them girls)

DUPREE: What about some of you boys? (Several students snicker.)

DUPREE: Don't you know how important teachers are? Without good teachers, none of the successful people you've read about would have learned the basic things like

reading, writing, math, and science that helped them become successful.

MALE STUDENT: But I want to make a lot of money . . .be a basketball star!

DUPREE: That's a good goal, but most basketball players spend more time in classrooms than they do being basketball stars. They have short careers and they have to be prepared to do something afterward. If you're prepared educationally, you could teach. As far as money is concerned, it is true teachers don't earn as much as I think they should but there really is more to work than earning money.

ANOTHER MALE STUDENT: Like what, Mrs. Dupree?

DUPREE: Like getting the chance to work with the most important people in the world.


DUPREE: All of you. Every weekday morning when I wake up I know I'm on my way to work with the most important people in the world. Do you know why you're the most important people in the world?


DUPREE: Because you represent the future. How you turn out will have consequences for us all. What you decide to do with your lives can help make this community and the world a better place. I hope a few of you will seriously consider teaching. I'll bet quite a few of you would make excellent teachers.

In the midst of unpacking after one of my numerous moves, I came across my college yearbook. In it, I spotted a photo of one of my professors. On it she had written, "Best wishes to a very capable student who will one day go on to pursue doctoral studies." My eyes widened in amazement,- my mouth dropped open. Why on earth would she have written that? There was nothing about me as an undergraduate that indicated graduate school material I didn't even know what I wanted to do with my life back then,- I'm not sure I even knew what graduate school was or what it required.


This quality is very evident in Julia Devereaux's work. Devereaux is an African American woman who has lived in the school community most of her life. She attended the very school in which she teaches. She is active in the local Catholic church and she serves as the local troop's Girl Scout leader. She is also the president of the district's teachers' association. None of her own three children attended the public schools in the district. Her two daughters went to a local black liberation school where she had once taught (she had been married to a member of the Black Panthers) and later went on to an exclusive white private school. Her son currently attends a Catholic grade school that serves a largely African American and Latino population.

Devereaux's classroom is the portable one next to Dupree's. Both are fourth-grade teachers but there is a tremendous contrast in the classroom climates. Where Dupree's class is neat and orderly, Devereaux's may be described as one of one of organized chaos." It is a busy classroom presided over by a busy teacher. Devereaux constantly looks for materials and supplies to purchase for her students. She takes advantage of special offers and bargains for classroom teachers offered by publishers and teacher supply stores. In consequence her room is filled to the brim with books, posters, novelty pencils, pens, erasers, key chains, coffee cups, and other interesting items. Devereaux is a scavenger who does not mind spending time looking for things that can be used in her classroom.

Along the back wall of the classroom are book shelves overflowing with books - some whole-class sets, others with random, single titles. Devereaux keeps her desk at the rear of the classroom. It has probably been some time since she has seen the top of it because it is covered with books and papers. But the condition of the desk is of little consequence to her because, as its placement in, the room suggests, she spends little time there.

This job demands that you be up and active. I don't have time to sit down at a desk. I need to be able to move in and among the children all day. I'm always saying to the kids, "Put that on my desk . . . put this on my desk." By the end of the day, so many things have been put on my desk that I can't even see it. But my teaching is not about paper, it's about people.

Devereaux believes that teaching offers a humane, ethical way for people to give back to the community. Because she is fluent in French, Devereaux could have opted to teach in a more affluent high school district. She reflects on her choice to remain in the African American community.

I wanted to teach here so much! My first job barely paid the rent. I taught in the private black liberation school where my own kids went too. I just don't believe that you just take, take, take from the community and never give back. That's what I try to tell my students today. You've got to get a good education because the community needs your brain power.

Throughout the school day, Devereaux reminds her students of ways in which they can become more involved in the community. In addition to talking about building community, she demonstrates how to do it. She offers her home phone number to all of her students' parents. She establishes a telephone tree so that important information can get to the parents quickly.

One Friday, one of Devereaux's students did not arrive home. The student's mother called Devereaux in a panic. Devereaux reassured her that they would find the boy. She activated her telephone tree and the parents organized search parties. The student was found at the home of a friend at about 11:30 that night. Devereaux insists that she could never have done such a thing alone but because the parents worked together as a community the whole group helped in the search.

One of the persistent complaints among today's teachers is that parents are not involved enough in the schools. Teachers lament the fact that ignore and ignore children come from households where both parents work. One statistic suggests that 75 percent, of parents never visit their children's schools." I don't recall my parents going out of their way to come to school. perhaps once a year they came for a conference or a student performance, but neither my mother nor my father was very visible. They were too busy working. They expected me to do what the teacher told me to do. However, if any teachers needed my parents for something, all they had to do was call.

Ann Lewis, a sixth-grade teacher, also emphasizes the idea of community. Lewis is a white woman who has lived in the community all her life. Her mother is one of the few white residents who did not participate in the "white flight" of the 1950s; she has lived in the community for more than forty years. Lewis says that it was the excellent teachers in the district she had as a child that inspired her to become a teacher. Lewis identifies strongly with the African American community; she has speech patterns similar to African American speakers. For a recent television documentary about the community and the school district, Lewis was asked by community members to be a spokesperson. She was the only white teacher that they saw as a legitimate spokesperson for the district.

Lewis and Devereaux were classmates. Now, both in their early forties, the two attended school together as girls. Like Devereaux, Lewis has been active in school district politics and preceded Devereaux as teacher association president. indeed, she has been president of the local teachers' association at least four times.

Perhaps because of her own active community involvement, Lewis insists that her students form a viable social community before they can become a viable learning community.

They have to care about each other and to depend on one another before we can really get anything meaningful accomplished. We have to have a sense of family, of "teamness." When we see ourselves as a team that works together, we can do anything. Having a kind of team spirit helps them to understand that one person's success is success for them all and that one person's failure is failure for everybody.

One of the ways Lewis builds community in her classroom' is through her annual camping trip. Every fall semester she arranges a five-day camp for her students near the San Francisco Bay coastline. Organized through the county's environmental education program, Lewis and students camp out with several other groups of students. The goals are to teach about the environment, encourage cross-cultural contact, and in Lewis's case, to build a sense of togetherness and team spirit among her students.

Because many parents in the district have had negative experiences with teachers, Lewis must spend almost a month convincing some that the camping trip is a worthwhile experience and that they should grant their permission. Lewis makes sure that each student is prepared with a sleeping bag and any other necessary equipment.

Many inner-city teachers shy away from this kind of intense interaction with their students. The working hours for them are Monday through Friday, 8:30 to 3:00. Lewis's camping trip represents a sacrifice on her part, but she feels that this experience is a necessary one to mold each group of individual students into a cohesive whole.

"Well, Miss Philadelphia, when are you coming to my house for dinner?" boomed my U.S. history professor. Each of us was invited in turn as part of a group of three or four others to his home for dinner and small talk. Many years later I would be invited actually required-to attend dinner at my graduate adviser's home. By then I understood that such gatherings served as a way to include people on the "team" and build a sense of community. My undergraduate professor was helping us understand the importance of this kind of behavior. Much of what is expected of you comes in informal learning situations. The jobs that are available, the grants being awarded, the committees most helpful for a person's advancement are issues that are not often discussed in the 'neutral" classroom environment. The real business and politics of school often take place among the "community," outside of the classroom.


These teachers do not ignore scientific principles of pedagogy. However, they do not view teaching as a technical skill that requires minimal training and they do not believe that as long as one follows a kind of recipe or prescription one can predict outcomes. On the contrary, teachers like Peggy Valentine exemplify the creative aspect of teaching.

Valentine , an African American woman in her mid-forties, is relatively new to the district, having come from the Midwest after her husband's company transferred him to the West Coast. She considers herself a strict teacher and she has a flair for the dramatic, waving her arms and rolling her eyes to get a point across. She attended a historically black college and identifies closely with the students because many of them are from single parent households and her own upbringing was in a single-parent home.

Valentine has taught in both inner-city and suburban schools. Her experiences with teaching more affluent white students has convinced her that African American students have special strengths that are rarely recognized in schools. She is very sensitive to what she perceives as slights made on the basis of race by the school administration. Her principal does not seem to like her personally but he does not hesitate to acknowledge her as one of the best teachers in the school.

Valentine enjoys teaching African American students because she says she identifies so closely with them:

When I look at my children I see myself. I grew up in a single-parent household. I know what it is not to have the things that other children have. I also know that being smart has nothing to do with skin color. I know that some of our kids are what is called "street smart." They have what black folks call "mother wit"-you know, the kind of sense that keeps you from getting hurt or even killed. When I taught those white kids in the suburbs, of course many seemed to know "book knowledge" but more often than not some of them don't have sense enough to come in out of the rain.

Valentine creatively engages her fourth-grade students in what could otherwise be a relatively boring lesson about adjectives. To encourage the students to use more descriptive, colorful language in their writing, she has developed an activity to get them to reach for unusual adjectives. This class is held in October and so she benefits from a Halloween atmosphere. She writes a noun on the chalkboard and asks the children to think of as many words as they can to describe it. The first noun is "witch." Tentatively at first, students begin to offer some modifiers. "Old witch," says one student. "Mean witch," says another. "Black witch," offers a third. All of a sudden, Peggy grasps her chest as if she were having a heart attack and rolls her eyes back in their sockets. "Black witch, old witch, mean witch-give me a break! You guys are kiuin' me! I need some great, fantastic, outstanding, stupendous, magnificent adjectives. I'll even take some compound adjectives. Can anybody save me?" After a few snickers, one boy ventures, "How about a green-faced, hook-nose, evil witch?" "Yes!" shouts Peggy Valentine. "Now you re cookin' with gas. Give me more, more! " The lesson proceeds with students shouting out a variety of compound and complex adjective phrases to revive the "dying" Valentine. The lesson goes on for almost forty minutes.

In our after-lesson briefing, Valentine tells me that she had not planned the dramatic part of the lesson. However, until that point she had not felt that the students were really engaged in the lesson.

They were just trying to get through it , and I know they weren't getting anything out of it. So I decided then and there to do something dramatic to get their attention. You have to be something of an actor to be a good teacher, and sometimes you have to overact. You're on stage all of the time. I knew when I went into my "dying" act it would cause some giggles but I also know that my children want to please me. They want to do things right because they want my approval. In order to help them develop some motivation, I capitalize on their strong feelings for me. In my acting role, I could be angry without actually scolding them. I really planned to go about twenty-five to thirty minute on this lesson, but once they got the hang of it and seemed to really enjoy it, I knew I couldn't cut them off. You just can't put a time limit on good teaching. You have to go with it and see where it comes out. That's why a good teacher's planing is always tentative. You can write all the behavioral objectives you want. When the dynamic of a good class gets rolling, you can't know where you're going to end up. You just have to trust that the teaming has been worth it and that the kids have gotten something out of it.


This notion that all students can succeed may seem trite because it is constantly repeated in the pedagogical literature. However, it is not until you see it in action that you know it can be more than a slogan.

In the classrooms of assimilationist teachers - those who seem satisfied with the status quo there is a belief that failure is inevitable for some students. Thus the teacher develops favorites, or pets," who are often alienated from their peers. Spindler's discussion of a teacher who operates in this way is very telling about the inability of some white middle-class teachers to recognize the idiosyncratic ways in which they interact with students of different backgrounds."

My Fourth-grade teacher, Mrs. Powell, sneezed out of Place in our largely African American school She was a middle-aged white woman who rarely smiled. I cannot remember her ever touching any of us. I do recall her saying that nobody could get an A in her class because an A would mean that we were as smart as she was. "What a bizarre notion, "I thought. I worked hard to earn the A's she did not intend to give. Despite my perfect spelling, reading, and math papers she only gave me B+. My another went to see her about the discrepancy between the papers I brought home and the grades on my report card. And from the second reporting period until the time I left her room, I received A's from Mrs. Powell. I don't think she thought I was particularly deserving of those A's, but I don't think she wanted to try to explain her unjust grading system to my Mother again. Unfortunately, I don't think my mother's ability to persuade Mrs. Powell to rethink her grading extended to my classmates. My mother was able to act as my advocate but she had little impact on the overall system.

Although all of the teachers in this study demonstrated the belief that all of their students could succeed, Gertrude Winston and Elizabeth Hards will be discussed here to illustrate this quality.

Winston is a teaching veteran of forty years. She attended normal school and began teaching in a one-room school in rural Michigan. After twelve years she decided to join the Peace Corps. She had her first contact with black people as a teacher in West Africa. From West Africa she began teaching in urban schools in Southern California and eventually moved to the San Francisco Bay Area for the final years of her teaching career. She describes her experience of teaching African and African American students as transformative. She believes she has received as much from the students as she has been able to give. She is quick to share things the students have taught her about responsibility and kinship relations. She says she has never married because she has been too busy enjoying her life as a teacher.

Walk into Winston's classroom and you walk into a model of order. The room is brightly painted and there are cubicles for each student's work. All kinds of folders have been prepared to help students keep their various papers organized. Because she has her students sit at large tables rather than at desks as most of the teachers do in her school, Winston's room seems larger. Less of the floor space is taken up by individual desks. The personal touches that she has given her room are indicative of the love and care she feels for her students. She presides over a room that shouts "success." Winston insists that she has never met an unsuccessful student.

You know, they're all successful at something. The problem is that school often doesn't deal with the kinds of things that they can and will be successful at. And those tests! Those are the worst things ever. They don't begin to test what the kids really know. That's why my class is a constant search for ways to be successful. That's why we do so many projects in my class. I figure if we do enough different kinds of things we'll hit on the kinds of things the kids can be successful with. There I look for ways to link that success with other tasks. For example, when I do my sewing bee, it's linked to my social studies unit but when a number of kids find out they're pretty good at sewing-and I mean boys as well as girls - I can get them interested in reading about sewing and other crafts and then in writing about it. But you know, the tests don't get at this big involved process of moving from a concrete experience to the level of abstraction that writing represents.

Alice Hall became my sixth-grade teacher after our original sixth-grade teacher, Mr. Moses, was promoted to assistant principal. Mr. Moses was a tall white man, one of the few male teachers at our school. While he was our teacher, he seemed to spend an inordinate amount of time chatting with Miss Plunkett, a pretty white teacher across the hall. He sat at his desk- a lot. From there be told us what pages to read in our textbooks. Whenever we finished our work we were allowed to draw. I did a lot of drawing while he was our teacher.

I was one of the few students excited about Mrs. Hall's move from fourth to sixth grade. I knew her from flute club and I knew she had many talents and interests. She was a magnificent knitter and she would teach that skill to anyone who was interested. She was a gifted musician and always taught her students to play the saxophone. One other strongest subject areas was mathematics and she helped students to delve deeply into its mysteries. Some of the students didn't like Mrs. Hall. Unlike Mr. Moses she required us to work-hard. Many students grumbled but everyone learned. Many years later I saw her at a commencement ceremony at a local college where she was a faculty member. She had become a mathematics professor.

Elizabeth Harris is a "fifty-something" African American woman who has lived in the community for more than twenty years. She is active in a local Pentecostal congregation and is accorded the respect of a "mother of the church." Students throughout the school are careful about the kind of language they use around her. She is very gentle and soft-spoken. I describe her approach to teaching as reflective and spiritual. Her religious conviction does not permit her to see her students as failures. She sees them all as creatures of God and, accordingly, "God doesn't make junk!"

Harris, Dupree, and Devereaux all teach in the same school. Although it is situated in a white community, the residents were successful in passing an initiative that allows them to send their children to a school in a neighboring white community. Thus African American, Latino, and Pacific Islander students make the short bus ride across the freeway to attend this school. The school's principal is relatively new to the district and is not seen as effective by either her staff or the community. Harris, Dupree, and Devereaux, with their independent spirits, are not among her favorite staff members. They do not deliberately antagonize her, but neither do they kowtow to her wishes, as some of the newer faculty do.

It is not an easy school in which to teach. The school yards, halls, and a number of the classrooms seem particularly noisy. Students talk loudly and sometimes rudely to one another and to the teachers and teachers' aides. Discipline seems to be a preoccupation for many teachers.

Harris, Dupree, and Devereaux have unusual classrooms for this school; all have a sense of order and student engagement. As you walk into Harris's room you are overcome with a feeling of calm and peace. Unlike Dupree's neat and orderly, no-nonsense classroom, or Devereaux's beehive of activity, Harris's classroom seems to be an oasis in a desert or a cairn place in the midst of a storm.

Harris starts her second-grade class each morning with a song. One of her children's favorites is "Peace is Flowing Like a River." She begins instruction by asking "What are we going to be our best at today?" Students start volunteering things, both instructional and noninstructional, at which they intend to excel. "I'm gonna to be good at my math," says one little boy. "I'm gonna be good at lining up for recess," shouts another. "I'm gonna be good at doin' my own work and minding my own business," says a little girl. As the students recite their goals and expectations for the day, Mrs. Harris encourages them with a smile or a comment, "Oh, you are? Well, that's very good!" or "I just know you can do that."

At the end of the day, Harris reconvenes her students to have them assess how well they met their goals. Each student is given an opportunity to describe what she or he did to be successful during the day. Students report on successes and reflect on ways they could have been even better at some things. Harris constantly tells them how good they are.

I'm not trying to tell the children that they're something that they're not. Even though they don't perform on grade level, we have to have a starting point for success. They need to identify for themselves what they know they can do and then do it. They also need to get credit for these accomplishments. I see a number of our children in church. They demonstrate that they are capable of all sorts of things there. They sing in the choir, they usher, they recite, and they make announcements. I know that if they have the discipline to accomplish these adult tasks, they can certainly do the things that schools ask of them. I think that children let too many people, like bad teachers, convince them that they are incapable of things. They give them baby work - tons and tons of silly worksheets-and never really challenge them. They need challenges. They can do it!


This chapter began with a discussion of the ways in which some white teachers pretend not to see a child's color. But for teachers with culturally relevant practices, students' diverse cultural backgrounds are central.

Margaret Rossi is relatively new to the district. She is a former Catholic Nun who has taught in another urban district and at a white suburban Private school. She considers herself a "hard" teacher, and she cultivates that reputation throughout the school. She laughs at the fact that the children refer to her, behind her back, by her Surname, as if they were speaking of a drill sergeant.

Rossi says she "hated" teaching at the private school because she felt the children were "neglected": they were given material things but lacked sincere parental involvement. She describes African American children as the one group of children who "will be themselves no matter what" and who will tell you exactly how they feel. "They don't try to deceive you by pretending that something is all right when deep down inside they don't think it is." Her assessment of African American children's frankness is based on experiences in both African American and white school communities. Instead of regarding these perceived differences as deficits, Rossi has called upon them as strengths.

In Rossi's class, who students are and how they are connected to wider communities is very important. In the class's current-events lesson, Rossi insists that the students be able to make pertinent connections between the news items they select and themselves. As the tensions increased in the Middle East prior to the Gulf War, many students brought in articles that detailed the impending conflict.

"But what does that have to do with you?" asked Rossi. "We're sitting here in sunny California, thousands of miles away from Kuwait. Why should we care?"

"Because they can drop a bomb on us!" volunteered one of her sixth graders.

"No, they can't," countered another. "We have all kinds of radar and stuff, and if they tried to fly over here, we could shoot them out of the sky.' "Let's say Rashad is right, and no planes could get through the U.S. radar," said Rossi. "What other reasons can you offer as to why these news issues would be important to us here in this community?"The students sat silent for what seemed like a long time but was actually only about a minute and a half This waiting for an answer was characteristic of Rossi's teaching style. She was not uncomfortable with classroom silence, because she believed that when you posed substantive questions with students, you were obligated to give them time to think about an answer. Finally, Denisha, a small African American girl who",as a diligent student but rarely spoke up in class, raised her hand.

"Yes Denisha?"

In a soft and measured voice, Denisha said. "Well, I think it affects us because you have to have people to fight a war, and since they don't have no draft, the people who will volunteer will be the people who don't have any jobs, and a lot of people in our community need work, so they might be the first ones to go. "

Before Rossi could comment, an African American boy, Sean, chimed in. "Yeah, my dad said that's what happened in Vietnam, blacks and Mexicans were like the first ones to go."

"I'm not sure if they were the first to go," remarked Rossi, "but I can say that they were over represented." She writes these words on the board. "Do you know what 1 mean by this?"

None of the students volunteers a response, so Rossi proceeds with an example. "If African Americans are 12 percent of the total U.S. population, and Latinos are 8 percent of the total U.S. population, what percent of the armed services do you think they should be?"

"Twenty percent total," calls out James, beaming at his ability to do the arithmetic quickly. "Twelve percent should be black, and 8 percent should be Mexican." "Okay," says Rossi. "However, I would call that 8 percent Latino rather than Mexican, because we are also including Puerto Ricans, Cuban Americans, and other U.S. citizens who are from Latin America. But in Vietnam their numbers in the armed services far exceeded their numbers in the general population. Often they were among the first to volunteer to go. Does it seem as if Denisha's comments help us link up with this news item?"

A number of the students verbally concur, while others nod in assent. As the discussion continues, students talk about the impact of having young male in particular leave their community. Given the fact that the numbers of African American and Latino males in this community are decreasing due to incarceration and other institutionalization, the prospect of losing even more men to war does not seem appealing.

By the end of the lesson, students are working in cooperative groups and creating "causality charts" where they list a number of current events and their possible impacts on their community.

In Ann Lewis's class, who students are and how they are connected to wider communities is also very important. One Monday morning, Ann writes on the board "Mandela." She asks if anyone recognizes the name. Most of the students' hands go up. South African leader Nelson Mandela has just been released after decades of political imprisonment. "I know who Mandela is," says Jerry, a sixth-grade African American boy who has strong opinions and an impressive cumulative file of school transgressions.

Who is he, Jerry?" asks Lewis.

"Well, he's this man who was in jail a long, long time in South Africa and he was fighting' for the black people's rights."

"What does Nelson Mandela have to do with us?" asks Alin. Several hands go up. Ann calls on Sugar Ray, a handsome African American boy with a trendy haircut.

"Well, like . . . Nelson Mandela represents, like, black people everywhere, not just in Africa. You know, just like Martin Luther King was a symbol for black people not just here but all over the world."

The conversation continues as students talk about how proud they are of Nelson Mandela and how they hope his freedom will mean freedom and equality for black South Africans. Lewis suggests some books and films that students might consult to learn more about apartheid and the struggles of blacks in South Africa. Students talk animatedly about which of these they will choose to read or view. No student expresses an unwillingness to read. Even if they do not follow through with these commitments, it is clear that it is "okay" to read In this class. Reading is not seen as a "sissy" or effeminate activity. The students understand both reading and film as ways to get information about things that interest them.


One of the commonalities among this diverse group of teachers is an overriding belief that students come to school with knowledge and that knowledge must be explored and utilized in order for students to become achievers.

Patricia Hilliard is tn African American woman in her early fifties who came to teaching after spending several years at home raising her family. After attending the local state university, she began as a long-term substitute teacher in a large urban district. She has taught in African American private schools in urban areas. She describes herself as someone who loves school and learning. Evidence of this claim is the fact that she regularly enrolls in-service courses and workshops. She has served on statewide curriculum committees and university-funded projects on pedagogy. She sees her role in these activities as ensuring that African American children do not get shortchanged when resources are allocated and policy is decided. She came to this school district as a long-term substitute but quickly demonstrated her ability to be effective with the students. The district offered her a teaching contract at the end of her substitute assignment.

Hilliard uses various methods to discover the knowledge that the students bring with them to the classroom. First, she spends time talking with parents about ways that they have educated their children. Then she talks to students about their interests and the things at which they are "experts. "

I find that much of what we claim we want to teach kids they already know in some form. I want to know what they know so that we can make some natural and relevant connections to their lives. Sometimes my black children will have information about home remedies Or stories and folktale they've heard from their grandparents. We take those stories and remedies and write them up, compare notes, see how their knowledge compares with so-called traditional knowledge. I'm always amazed when students tell me things that I don't know. That happens a lot (the older I get). But it's not just about younger generation versus older generation. My students know about things like community Politics and police brutality. I can't feed them a steady diet of cute little stories and happy middle-class kids- Their experiences have to be a part of our curriculum, too.

Hilliard's statements reflect her respect for her students' experiences. Rather than treating them as if they do not know anything, their only purpose being to come to school to learn what she wants to teach, she understands teaching as a reciprocal process. By listening and learning from the students, she understands the need to rethink and re-envision the curriculum and what she should do with it.

In sum, a focus on the children's perceptions of self and others is especially important because teachers often express feelings of low self-esteem concerning their own work. These feelings are exacerbated when they work with low-income students and children of color. The pattern for some teachers is to endure a teaching assignment in an inner-city school until they can find a position in a more affluent district with fewer children of color. In contrast, several of the teachers in this study were offered teaching positions in other districts but refused them. Their conceptions of self, students, students' parents, and community are positive. They have made their work in the district their life's work because they love it and are good at it. In the next chapter I will describe how teachers' perceptions of themselves and others affects the ways that they structure their social relations.

From "Seeing Color, Seeing Culture" from The Dreamkeepers: Successful Teachers of African American Children by Gloria Ladson-Billings (1994). San Francisco: Jossey-Bass

Lives of Learning

Mary Catherine Bateson

Most of life's learning takes place outside and beyond the classroom, continuing through old age. Those of us who have spent our lives as educators often have found memories of our own schooling, yet even a career in higher education depends on informal as well as formal learning. We learn how to teach and navigate our careers, in large part, by imitation, or trail and error.

How often, though do we consider how formal and informal learning connect, both in our own lives and in those of our students? As with wines, we might ask whether formal education travels and ages well, whether it strengthens the capacity for self-initiated learning or weakens it. Does it inspire graduates to read widely in later life, or do years of focused assignments transform reading into a narrowly instrumental activity, replacing curiosity with conscientiousness? Do our students go on to observe and analyze experience and seek patterns in what they observe? Are their values re-examined and developed over time? Much of the substance of what we teach and test becomes irrelevant: habits of minds do not. Any life depends on continuous learning, but in most life stories you have to seek it between the lines. How do you construe your experience outside of the classroom in terms of learning, or who notice how much of even what they learn in school is outside of the curriculum.

Adapting to a new culture entails going consciously through a version of an early childhood process that is largely forgotten by those who are not uprooted. The children of immigrants have the double challenge of learning a culture in which their parents may not be fully competent and learning the culture from which their parents have distanced them. Both have to probe and struggle for understanding. The informal side of learning to believe; it is easier to emphasize with unfamiliar ways of interpreting experience if we follow another mind through the process of making meaning. Sometimes the shift in ideologies is religious. What kind of learning is involved when an adult accepts a totally new set of values and a new way of seeing the world?

One of the most common reasons for recounting a life story is didactic. I will tell you not what I believe, but how I cam to hold that belief, and bring you with me, along the same path of learning. I will tell you not who you ought to be, but how I became a particular kind of person, and perhaps you will emulate that process of becoming.

Lifelong learning is not optional. However our students decide to link experience and enlightenment and whether or not they write about it, the habit of reflection may be their most critical tool in life. Learning narratives offer telling examples of the wielding of that tool.

From: Chronicle of Higher Education July, 2003

Relearning race: Teaching race as a cultural construction.

Joel M. Sipress

DESPITE A RECENT SPATE of newspaper and magazine articles chronicling the malleability of racial identity, it may nonetheless surprise many Americans to learn that the biological sciences have come to reject race as a scientifically meaningful category. No longer do scientists speak of the "races of man." Biology has abandoned as fruitless the search for hereditary traits that are sufficient to distinguish distinct human types. The tripartite division of humankind into "Negroid," "Mongoloid," and "Caucasoid" occupies a position in the biological sciences roughly equivalent to that of the Ptolemaic model of the universe in astronomy.(FN2).

Historical scholarship has, in recent years, caught up with biological science. Since the publication of Barbara Fields' path-breaking 1982 essay, "Ideology and Race in American History," historians have to come to view racial identity as a social and cultural construction, rather than a biological fact. Historians generally understand that racial identity and racial categories are fluid and changeable. The study of racial identity and its evolution, in fact, has emerged as a major growth field for scholarship and publication.(FN3).

The contrast between the world of scholarship and that of undergraduate education is stark. In the undergraduate classroom, races remain fixed and self-evident categories. We find ourselves, even when we know better, employing the language of "black" and "white" uncritically, with little or no discussion of how these categories came to be in the first place, nor how they have evolved over the generations. Our textbooks fail to discuss the subtle historical processes by which racial identity is constructed. Instead, we are treated to a view of American history in which categories of "red," "white," "yellow," and "black" are taken as given.(FN4).

The discussion of race in our classrooms reflects attitudes and assumptions that are deeply rooted in the broader American culture. Students and professors alike carry with them a lifetime of experience that teaches us to see racial categories as self-evident and fixed. Before we can see race as a cultural construction, we must first undergo a paradigm shift. Our job, as instructors, is to facilitate this shift, both in ourselves and our students.

A paradigm shift cannot be taught as one teaches a body of material. Nor can it simply be presented as one presents a challenging new idea. To facilitate a paradigm shift, an instructor must guide students through the difficult process of shedding deeply-rooted preconceptions. The instructor must then help students develop the analytical tools needed to achieve a new and different understanding of the issue at hand.

In my own classroom, I have experimented with a variety of methods to help students make the leap into a new racial paradigm. On the basis of this experience, I would like to offer the following three-step strategy for facilitating this paradigm shift. The discussion that follows is intended to outline this strategy in general terms. The application, of course, depends upon the context of the particular course. The examples provided serve to illustrate the approach while suggesting materials and resources available for teaching race as a cultural construction.

STEP ONE: INTRODUCE DOUBTIn 1982, a Louisiana woman named Susie Phipps filed suit in state court to be declared legally white. Phipps appeared to be white and had always considered herself to be white. While applying for a passport, she was shocked to discover that her birth certificate designated her race as "colored." The Louisiana Bureau of Vital Statistics, the state agency charged with maintaining racial classification records, opposed Phipps' claim. The bureau revealed that Phipps' great-great-great-great grand-mother was an African slave whose owner's husband had taken her as a mistress. A number of her other ancestors were "mulattos," "quadroons," and "octoroons." Citing a 1970 state law that declared one thirty-second of "Negro blood" to be the legal definition of blackness in Louisiana, the court ruled Susie Phipps' to be legally black, much to the plaintiff's dismay.(FN5).

Most students, even those who believe themselves to be committed to racial equality, enter the classroom with little doubt that

humanity is composed of distinct racial sub-groups. Through discussion of examples such as the Phipps case, students come to see that racial identity is not always clear and self-evident. As doubt is introduced, students become open to alternative analyses of race that challenge their own common sense.

A powerful method to induce doubt is the "racial classification exercise." In such an exercise, students attempt to categorize

individuals according to race. They soon discover the difficulty of doing so in a rigorous and consistent fashion. In one class, I invited a Salvadoran colleague of mixed African, European, and American descent to serve as the subject. The students were asked to determine the subject's racial identity on the basis of responses to questions the students themselves posed. (Students were barred from asking the subject to directly reveal his racial identity or that of his parents.) After perhaps twenty minutes of intense scrutiny, the students grew exasperated. The subject simply did not fit into any of their preconceived racial categories. One clever student asked the subject which box he checked on forms that asked for racial identity. The subject answered "Hispanic." Another clever student asked whether the subject considered "Hispanics" to be a race. The subject responded no. By the end of the exercise, the self-evident nature of race was very much in doubt.(FN6).

Before beginning an exercise such as this, make sure to provide students with a clear definition of race. Race is a category of social classification based upon inherited physical traits. It is distinct from social categories, such as ethnicity, that are based upon culture. I ask students themselves to generate examples of racial categories and ask them to list the physical traits that characterize each race. This provides students with a list of "races" by which they can try to classify a subject.

The success of a racial classification exercise depends upon having a subject that defies commonly accepted racial categorization schemes. If an in-person subject is unavailable, photographs provide a workable alternative. A colleague of mine in the field of sociology presents students with a set of photographs taken from National Geographic. The photographic set, which includes such items as dark-skinned Australian aborigines and light-skinned Yemenites, confounds students who bring a set of preconceived notions concerning the geographic distribution of particular physical traits.

The goal of the racial classification exercise is simply to induce doubt. Such exercises provide powerful evidence of the fuzzy and arbitrary lines between the so-called "races." Even as they come to doubt the self-evident nature of racial identity, however, many students will still cling to their "common sense" understanding of race. Some may accept that "inter-mixing" makes the lines between races fuzzy, while holding fast to their belief in "pure" races that predate inter-mixing. Others may accept that race is arbitrary in a scientific sense, yet still view racial categories as universal and fixed. Racial classification exercises and other

doubt-inducing mechanisms simply begin the process of the paradigm shift.

STEP TWO: DEMONSTRATE THE HISTORICAL FLUIDITY OF RACIAL CATEGORIESIn 1894, a still relatively obscure Booker T. Washington aroused the ire of Rabbi Isaac Mayer Wise, a leading voice of American Reform Jewry. Washington certainly had no intention to offend. The affront, in fact, came in the course of a magazine article quite complimentary toward Jewish Americans. In the article, Washington related the story of a Jewish immigrant who, within four years of his arrival in the town of Tuskegee, Alabama, had risen from poverty to become a leading merchant of the community. The moral, according to Washington, was that "the blackest Negro in the United States" had the same opportunity to succeed in business as "a Jew or a white man.".

It was the phrase "a Jew or a white man" that outraged Rabbi Wise. "All Jewish Americans," the rabbi bristled, "are Caucasians." By implying otherwise, he wrote, Washington had committed a "scientific blunder." Washington was in need of "a lesson in primary ethnology."(FN7).

The indignation aroused by Washington's phrase "a Jew or a white man" is indicative of the price those considered "non-white" might pay in turn-of-the-century America. Yet, it also illustrates the degree to which racial categories that we take to be self-evident and fixed are in fact quite fluid. Booker T. Washington was by no means alone in making racial distinctions among those we today term "white." For turn-of-the-century Americans, the racial distinctions among Europeans were as real as the racial distinctions we make today.

For those clinging to the belief that racial categories are universal and fixed (even if arbitrary), an examination of past schemes of racial classification can be an eye-opening experience. Many students are especially astounded by the changing definition of

whiteness. Immigrant groups, such as Poles and Italians, that today are commonly accepted as white, were, at the turn of the

century, routinely considered racially distinct. After studying early twentieth-century racial discourse and its application to European immigrants, students are unlikely to again view racial identity as something fixed and self-evident.

The enormous wave of immigration that reached the shores of the United States between 1880 and 1920 troubled and disturbed many native-born Americans. Unlike earlier immigrant groups, the "new" immigrants mostly came from southern and eastern Europe. They arrived with few resources and tended to remain segregated in overcrowded ethnic slums. For many native-born Americans, the racial distinctions between themselves and the new immigrants were clear and obvious. Edward A. Ross, a prominent professor of sociology at the University of Wisconsin, for example, spoke of the "narrow and sloping foreheads" of the new immigrants and of their "shortness and smallness of crania." To Ross' practiced eye, "the physiognomy of certain groups unmistakably proclaims inferiority of type." The moral superiority of "the races of northern Europe" over the "Mediterranean peoples" was, to Ross, "as certain as any social fact."(FN8).

The racialization of the new immigrants was by no means limited to xenophobes such as Ross. Even those sympathetic to the new arrivals from Eastern and Southern Europe spoke of them in racial terms. Jeremiah W. Jenks and W. Jett Lauck, relative liberals who authored a widely read study of the "immigration problem," identified fifty-six distinct races employed in American industry. Among those characterized by Jenks and Lauck as distinct "races" were Poles, Slovaks, South Italians, North Italians, Magyars, Lithuanians, Croatians, French-Canadians, Hebrews, Spanish, and "native-born White Americans." Lest one conclude that the pair did not intend for the term "race" to be taken in the strict biological sense, Jenks and Lauck devoted a portion of their study to "bodily form," including a brief analysis of the "shape of skull."(FN9).

Published primary sources that illustrate the racialization of the new immigrants in the early twentieth century are widely

available.(FN10) Such sources provide excellent lecture material, as well as fodder for in-class exercises.

In colonial history, the experience of South Carolina's Catawba Indians provides a useful example of the malleability of racial

categories. Historian James H. Merrell maintains that, prior to contact with Africans and Europeans, the Catawba viewed the world through cultural rather than racial lenses. The Catawba were intensely ethnocentric and judged all outsiders by the yardstick of Catawba culture. Foreigners, regardless of physical appearance, were disdained. Those who accepted Catawba ways were embraced. The Catawba, according to Merrell, did not initially make social distinctions between "black" and "white," as they assumed Africans and Europeans to be members of a single alien culture. The Catawba, as Merrell puts it, considered Africans to be "black white men."(FN11).

As the Catawba were gradually integrated into the racist society of the antebellum South, they became, in Merrell's words, "racially educated." Exposure to the institution of slavery taught the Catawba to recognize the social distinction between black and white. Already marginalized within southern society, the Catawba came to fear being classified as black themselves. Over time, they adopted a viciously racist worldview. The Catawba learned that hatred of blacks was one way to distinguish themselves from blacks.(FN12).

The "racial education" of the Catawba graphically illustrates the process through which racial identity is constructed. Racial identity is neither given nor self-evident. One is not born with it. Nor is it "learned" in the usual sense of the word. Racial identity is constructed over time through a social and cultural process.

STEP THREE: ANALYZE THE FACTORS THAT SHAPE RACIAL IDENTITYHaving come to accept that racial identity is neither fixed nor self-evident, some students are eager to simply cast race aside entirely as mere illusion. Racial identity, however, even if scientifically meaningless, is woven into the very fabric of our society, our culture, and even our day-to-day human interactions. A racial paradigm shift should not merely lead to the debunking of race, but rather to a better understanding of racial identity and the role it plays in our society. In order to gain such an understanding, students must not view racial identity as purely arbitrary or capricious. Students must see that the evolution of racial identity can be subjected to the same type of rational analysis as any other historical phenomenon.

Scholars have produced a wide range of models and theories to explain the formation of racial identity.(FN13) In the early stages of study, it is not necessary for students to grapple with these grand theories. It is more important for students to gain an appreciation for the types of factors that shape racial identity. Students can gain such an appreciation by working with a variety of case studies.

The racialization of slavery in colonial Virginia, for example, illustrates the ways in which the practical concerns of plantation

management and labor control contributed to the rise of the racial categories of "black" and "white." Although the first African slaves arrived in Virginia in 1619, racial identity emerged only gradually. Colonial law at first made no distinction between the legal status of African slaves and European servants. Both could own property and could enter into contracts. Servants and slaves ate together, worked together, slept together, and sometimes escaped together. In matters of crime and punishment, the law treated both alike. A slave was, in effect, a servant who served for life. The original justification for perpetual servitude was not the "blackness" of Africans, but rather their "heathenism." In the early years of the Virginia colony, a number of African slaves sued successfully for their freedom on the grounds that they had been baptized and had accepted Christianity.(FN14).

As Virginia's tobacco planters became increasingly dependent upon African labor, they began to elaborate a distinct legal status of "slave," as well as a racial ideology to justify it. Beginning in the 1660s, the Virginia colonial legislature passed a series of laws that stripped slaves of the rights, such as freedom of assembly, to which they had previously been entitled. Other laws enacted distinct forms of punishment for disobedient slaves, including the right of masters to beat recalcitrant slaves to the point of death. In 1705, the legislature declared slaves to be a form of "fee simple" property. As the legal status of slaves sank, the Virginia legislature began to write racial categories, such as "black" and "white," into law. In 1667, for example, legislators shifted the justification for slavery from religion to ancestry by declaring that all children born into slavery would remain slaves regardless of baptism.(FN15).

The Virginia slave laws provide the basis for an effective in-class exercise. Through careful reading and analysis of the statutes,

students can see race in the process of invention. Each statute responded to a practical problem faced by Virginia's planters.

Disobedient slaves, for example, could not be punished through the extension of their term of service, a form of punishment

commonly inflicted upon indentured servants. New and distinct forms of punishments therefore had to be developed. By analyzing and discussing the statutes, students gain insights into the ways in which the practical self-interest of planters contributed to the "racial education" of Virginians.(FN16).

The "whitening" of Irish-Americans provides an example of a marginal social group that embraced a racial identity to advance its own interests. The Irish, who began arriving in the United States in large numbers in the 1840s, found themselves in a society whose culture and politics were already characterized by a strict racial hierarchy. To native-born Americans, the racial status of the Irish, like that of the Poles and Italians who followed, was unclear. Antebellum ethnologists spoke derisively of the "Celtic" race. To political cartoonists, "Paddy" bore an uncanny resemblance to an ape.(FN17).

"Whiteness," according to historian David Roediger, served as a powerful weapon in the Irish struggle to carve out a place in a hostile American society. By asserting their whiteness, the Irish were able to claim the status of full-fledged Americans. The Irish wielded whiteness to assert control over jobs. White supremacist doctrine cemented the relationship between the Democratic Party, the party of slavery and Indian removal, and an Irish community desperately in need of political patrons. Although anti-Irish and anti-Catholic attitudes persisted, Irish-Americans were successful in their struggle to establish their identity as full-fledged white men and women.(FN18).

Roediger provides a clear and compelling analysis of the process by which a group with an ambiguous racial identity became white. His account of the Irish leads naturally into a discussion of the "whitening" of European immigrants generally. No longer does the transformation of "Jews" or "Slavs" into white people seem capricious and arbitrary. It is reflective of a political process through which these groups escaped their social marginality. Roediger's work provides students with the tools to subject this process to rational analysis.

The three-step strategy just outlined will not provide students with a grand model or theory with which to replace the discredited view of race as a natural and self-evident category. The initial paradigm shift is simply the beginning of the quest for a new and better understanding of racial identity and its role in American society. Some students may move on to grapple with the provocative scholarship of recent years. Others may not. Either way, students will leave the classroom leery of simplistic analyses of racial issues and skeptical of positions that flow from racial essentialism.

Teaching race as a cultural construction can be quite challenging. The rewards, however, are plentiful. Few subjects offer so rich an opportunity for students (and instructors) to re-examine their own assumptions about history, society, and their own identity.

From: The History Teacher v. 30 (Feb. 1997) p. 175-85.


1. Webster's New Collegiate Dictionary (Springfield, Massachusetts: G. & C. Merriam Company, 1980).

2. For a discussion of how science came to reject race as a meaningful category, see Elazar Barkan, The Retreat of Scientific

Racism: Changing Concepts of Race in Britain and the United States between the World Wars (Cambridge: Cambridge University

Press, 1992). In February of 1995, the malleability of race hit the front cover of Newsweek magazine. Tom Morganthau, "What Color

Is Black?" Newsweek, 13 February 1995, pp.. 63-65.

3. Barbara J. Fields, "Ideology and Race in American History," in Region, Race, and Reconstruction: Essays in Honor of C. Vann

Woodward, ed. J. Morgan Kousser and James M. McPherson (New York: Oxford University Press, 1982), p. 144. Recent works that

examine the construction of racial identity include David R. Roediger, The Wages of Whiteness: Race and The Making of the

American Working Class (London: Verso, 1991); Marilyn Halter, Between Race and Ethnicity: Cape Verdean American Immigrants,

1860-1965 (Urbana: University of Illinois Press, 1993); Virginia R. Dominguez, White By Definition: Social Classification in Creole

Louisiana (New Brunswick: Rutgers University Press, 1986); Theordore W. Allen, The Invention of the White Race, Vol. 1, Racial

Oppression and Social Control (London, Verso, 1994); Ian F. Haney-Lopez, White By Law: The Legal Construction of Race (New

York University Press, 1996).

4. James D. Anderson, "How We Learn about Race through History," in Learning History in America: Schools, Culture, and Politics,

ed., Lloyd Kramer, Donald Reid, and William L. Barney (Minneapolis: University of Minnesota Press, 1994).

5. Ibid., pp. 87-88; Dominguez, White by Definition, pp. 1-2. For an excellent account of the Phipps case that is appropriate for

undergraduates at any level, see Calvin Trillin, "American Chronicles: Black or White," New Yorker, 14 April 1986, pp. 62-77. Prior to

the adoption of the 1970 law, the state of Louisiana considered any traceable African ancestry sufficient to classify an individual as

"colored." Operating under this "one-drop rule," the Louisiana Bureau of Vital Statistics had pursued an aggressive policy of

reclassifying those "misclassified" as white. In 1983, Louisiana joined all other states in adopting self-identification as the legal basis

for racial classification. Louisiana parents are now free to designate the race of their children as they wish. Dominguez, White by

Definition, pp. 45-46, 52-53.

6. In another class, an Iranian colleague of Turkish (or "Azerbaijani") ethnicity served as subject.

7. Louis R. Harlan, "Booker T. Washington's Discovery of Jews," in Region, Race, and Reconstruction: Essays in Honor of C. Vann

Woodward, ed. J. Morgan Kousser and James McPherson (New York: Oxford University Press, 1982), pp. 267-268.

8. Edward A. Ross, "Racial Consequences of Immigration," in Selected Articles on Immigration, ed. Edith M. Phelps (New York:

H.W. Wilson Company, 1920), pp. 121-122.

9. Jeremiah W. Jenks and W. Jett Lauck, The Immigration Problem: A Study of American Immigration Conditions and Needs, 6th ed.

(New York: Funk and Wagnalls, 1926), pp. 147-152, 332-333.

10. In addition to the sources cited above, see also, for example, Edith Abbott, ed., Historical Aspects of the Immigration Problem:

Select Documents (Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 1926).

11. James H. Merrell, "The Racial Education of the Catawba Indians," Journal of Southern History 50 (August 1984), pp. 365-366,


12. Ibid., p. 382.

13. Contrast, for example, the approach of Barbara J. Fields (nuanced, yet traditionally Marxist) with the explicitly non-Marxist theory

of "racial formation" proposed by Michael Omi and Howard Winant. Fields, "Slavery, Race and Ideology in the United State of

America," New Left Review 181 (May/June 1990), 95-118; Omi and Winant, Racial Formation in the United States: From the 1960s to

the 1990s, 2d ed. (New York: Routledge, 1994).

14. Edmund S. Morgan, American Slavery, American Freedom: The Ordeal of Colonial Virginia (New York: W.W. Norton, 1975), pp.

154-157, 327, 331; Fields, "Slavery, Race and Ideology in the United States of America," pp. 104-105.

15. A. Leon Higginbotham, Jr., In the Matter of Color: Race and the American Legal Process, The Colonial Period (New York: Oxford

University Press, 1978), pp. 32-53.

16. For the verbatim text of the key statutes, see Higginbotham.

17. Roediger, The Wages of Whiteness, pp. 133-134.

18. Ibid., pp. 140-150.

Blaxicans' and Other Reinvented Americans


There is something unsettling about immigrants because ... well, because they chatter incomprehensibly, and they get in everyone's way. Immigrants seem to be bent on undoing America. Just when Americans think we know who we are -- we are Protestants, culled from Western Europe, are we not? -- then new immigrants appear from Southern Europe or from Eastern Europe. We -- we who are already here -- we don't know exactly what the latest comers will mean to our community. How will they fit in with us? Thus we -- we who were here first -- we begin to question our own identity.

After a generation or two, the grandchildren or the great-grandchildren of immigrants to the United States and the grandchildren of those who tried to keep immigrants out of the United States will romanticize the immigrant, will begin to see the immigrant as the figure who teaches us most about what it means to be an American. The immigrant, in mythic terms, travels from the outermost rind of America to the very center of American mythology. None of this, of course, can we admit to the Vietnamese immigrant who served us our breakfast at the hotel this morning. In another 40 years, we will be prepared to say to the Vietnamese immigrant that he, with his breakfast tray, with his intuition for travel, with his memory of tragedy, with his recognition of peerless freedoms, he fulfills the meaning of America.

In 1997, Gallup conducted a survey on race relations in America, but the poll was concerned only with white and black Americans. No question was put to the aforementioned Vietnamese man. There was certainly no question for the Chinese grocer, none for the Guatemalan barber, none for the tribe of Mexican Indians who reroofed your neighbor's house.

The American conversation about race has always been a black-and-white conversation, but the conversation has become as bloodless as badminton.

I have listened to the black-and-white conversation for most of my life. I was supposed to attach myself to one side or the other, without asking the obvious questions: What is this perpetual dialectic between Europe and Africa? Why does it admit so little reference to anyone else?

I am speaking to you in American English that was taught me by Irish nuns -- immigrant women. I wear an Indian face; I answer to a Spanish surname as well as this California first name, Richard. You might wonder about the complexity of historical factors, the collision of centuries, that creates Richard Rodriguez. My brownness is the illustration of that collision, or the bland memorial of it. I stand before you as an Impure-American, an Ambiguous-American.

In the 19th century, Texans used to say that the reason Mexicans were so easily defeated in battle was because we were so dilute, being neither pure Indian nor pure Spaniard. Yet, at the same time, Mexicans used to say that Mexico, the country of my ancestry, joined two worlds, two competing armies. José Vasconcelos, the Mexican educator and philosopher, famously described Mexicans as la raza cósmica, the cosmic race. In Mexico what one finds as early as the 18th century is a predominant population of mixed-race people. Also, once the slave had been freed in Mexico, the incidence of marriage between Indian and African people there was greater than in any other country in the Americas and has not been equaled since.

Race mixture has not been a point of pride in America. Americans speak more easily about "diversity" than we do about the fact that I might marry your daughter; you might become we; we might become us. America has so readily adopted the Canadian notion of multiculturalism because it preserves our preference for thinking ourselves separate -- our elbows need not touch, thank you. I would prefer that table. I can remain Mexican, whatever that means, in the United States of America.

I would propose that instead of adopting the Canadian model of multiculturalism, America might begin to imagine the Mexican alternative -- that of a mestizaje society.

Because of colonial Mexico, I am mestizo. But I was reinvented by President Richard Nixon. In the early 1970s, Nixon instructed the Office of Management and Budget to identify the major racial and ethnic groups in the United States. OMB came up with five major ethnic or racial groups. The groups are white, black, Asian/Pacific Islander, American Indian/Eskimo, and Hispanic.

It's what I learned to do when I was in college: to call myself a Hispanic. At my university we even had separate cafeteria tables and "theme houses," where the children of Nixon could gather -- of a feather. Native Americans united. African-Americans. Casa Hispanic.

The interesting thing about Hispanics is that you will never meet us in Latin America. You may meet Chileans and Peruvians and Mexicans. You will not meet Hispanics. If you inquire in Lima or Bogotá about Hispanics, you will be referred to Dallas. For "Hispanic" is a gringo contrivance, a definition of the world according to European patterns of colonization. Such a definition suggests I have more in common with Argentine-Italians than with American Indians; that there is an ineffable union between the white Cuban and the mulatto Puerto Rican because of Spain. Nixon's conclusion has become the basis for the way we now organize and understand American society.

The Census Bureau foretold that by the year 2003, Hispanics would outnumber blacks to become the largest minority in the United States. And, indeed, the year 2003 has arrived and the proclamation of Hispanic ascendancy has been published far and wide. While I admit a competition has existed -- does exist -- in America between Hispanic and black people, I insist that the comparison of Hispanics with blacks will lead, ultimately, to complete nonsense. For there is no such thing as a Hispanic race. In Latin America, one sees every race of the world. One sees white Hispanics, one sees black Hispanics, one sees brown Hispanics who are Indians, many of whom do not speak Spanish because they resist Spain. One sees Asian-Hispanics. To compare blacks and Hispanics, therefore, is to construct a fallacious equation.

Some Hispanics have accepted the fiction. Some Hispanics have too easily accustomed themselves to impersonating a third race, a great new third race in America. But Hispanic is an ethnic term. It is a term denoting culture. So when the Census Bureau says by the year 2060 one-third of all Americans will identify themselves as Hispanic, the Census Bureau is not speculating in pigment or quantifying according to actual historical narratives, but rather is predicting how by the year 2060 one-third of all Americans will identify themselves culturally. For a country that traditionally has taken its understandings of community from blood and color, the new circumstance of so large a group of Americans identifying themselves by virtue of language or fashion or cuisine or literature is an extraordinary change, and a revolutionary one.

People ask me all the time if I envision another Quebec forming in the United States because of the large immigrant movement from the south. Do I see a Quebec forming in the Southwest, for example? No, I don't see that at all. But I do notice the Latin American immigrant population is as much as 10 years younger than the U.S. national population. I notice the Latin American immigrant population is more fertile than the U.S. national population. I see the movement of the immigrants from south to north as a movement of youth -- like approaching spring! -- into a country that is growing middle-aged. I notice immigrants are the archetypal Americans at a time when we -- U.S. citizens -- have become post-Americans, most concerned with subsidized medications.

I was at a small Apostolic Assembly in East Palo Alto a few years ago -- a mainly Spanish-speaking congregation in an area along the freeway, near the heart of the Silicon Valley. This area used to be black East Palo Alto, but it is quickly becoming an Asian and Hispanic Palo Alto neighborhood. There was a moment in the service when newcomers to the congregation were introduced. Newcomers brought letters of introduction from sister evangelical churches in Latin America. The minister read out the various letters and pronounced the names and places of origin to the community. The congregation applauded. And I thought to myself: It's over. The border is over. These people were not being asked whether they had green cards. They were not being asked whether they arrived here legally or illegally. They were being welcomed within a new community for reasons of culture. There is now a north-south line that is theological, a line that cannot be circumvented by the U.S. Border Patrol.

I was on a British Broadcasting Corporation interview show, and a woman introduced me as being "in favor" of assimilation. I am not in favor of assimilation any more than I am in favor of the Pacific Ocean or clement weather. If I had a bumper sticker on the subject, it might read something like ASSIMILATION HAPPENS. One doesn't get up in the morning, as an immigrant child in America, and think to oneself, "How much of an American shall I become today?" One doesn't walk down the street and decide to be 40 percent Mexican and 60 percent American. Culture is fluid. Culture is smoke. You breathe it. You eat it. You can't help hearing it -- Elvis Presley goes in your ear, and you cannot get Elvis Presley out of your mind.

I am in favor of assimilation. I am not in favor of assimilation. I recognize assimilation. A few years ago, I was in Merced, Calif. -- a town of about 75,000 people in the Central Valley where the two largest immigrant groups at that time (California is so fluid, I believe this is no longer the case) were Laotian Hmong and Mexicans. Laotians have never in the history of the world, as far as I know, lived next to Mexicans. But there they were in Merced, and living next to Mexicans. They don't like each other. I was talking to the Laotian kids about why they don't like the Mexican kids. They were telling me that the Mexicans do this and the Mexicans don't do that, when I suddenly realized that they were speaking English with a Spanish accent.

On his interview show, Bill Moyers once asked me how I thought of myself. As an American? Or Hispanic? I answered that I am Chinese, and that is because I live in a Chinese city and because I want to be Chinese. Well, why not? Some Chinese-American people in the Richmond and Sunset districts of San Francisco sometimes paint their houses (so many qualifiers!) in colors I would once have described as garish: lime greens, rose reds, pumpkin. But I have lived in a Chinese city for so long that my eye has taken on that palette, has come to prefer lime greens and rose reds and all the inventions of this Chinese Mediterranean. I see photographs in magazines or documentary footage of China, especially rural China, and I see what I recognize as home. Isn't that odd?

I do think distinctions exist. I'm not talking about an America tomorrow in which we're going to find that black and white are no longer the distinguishing marks of separateness. But many young people I meet tell me they feel like Victorians when they identify themselves as black or white. They don't think of themselves in those terms. And they're already moving into a world in which tattoo or ornament or movement or commune or sexuality or drug or rave or electronic bombast are the organizing principles of their identity. The notion that they are white or black simply doesn't occur.

And increasingly, of course, one meets children who really don't know how to say what they are. They simply are too many things. I met a young girl in San Diego at a convention of mixed-race children, among whom the common habit is to define one parent over the other -- black over white, for example. But this girl said that her mother was Mexican and her father was African. The girl said "Blaxican." By reinventing language, she is reinventing America.

America does not have a vocabulary like the vocabulary the Spanish empire evolved to describe the multiplicity of racial possibilities in the New World. The conversation, the interior monologue of America cannot rely on the old vocabulary -- black, white. We are no longer a black-white nation.

So, what myth do we tell ourselves? The person who got closest to it was Karl Marx. Marx predicted that the discovery of gold in California would be a more central event to the Americas than the discovery of the Americas by Columbus -- which was only the meeting of two tribes, essentially, the European and the Indian. But when gold was discovered in California in the 1840s, the entire world met. For the first time in human history, all of the known world gathered. The Malaysian stood in the gold fields alongside the African, alongside the Chinese, alongside the Australian, alongside the Yankee.

That was an event without parallel in world history and the beginning of modern California -- why California today provides the mythological structure for understanding how we might talk about the American experience: not as biracial, but as the re-creation of the known world in the New World.

Sometimes truly revolutionary things happen without regard. I mean, we may wake up one morning and there is no black race. There is no white race either. There are mythologies, and -- as I am in the business, insofar as I am in any business at all, of demythologizing such identities as black and white -- I come to you as a man of many cultures. I come to you as Chinese. Unless you understand that I am Chinese, then you have not understood anything I have said.

FROM: Section: Chronicle Review Volume 50, Issue 3, Page B10 September 12 2003


"Whose Culture Is It, Anyway?"


Even with increased awareness of diversity throughout our society, we academic professionals of color often find that our white counterparts treat us differently from the way they do other whites.

Not long ago, I was invited to give a guest lecture on working with diverse ethnic groups to students in a course on counseling psychology. As part of my job as multicultural coordinator at the university's counseling center, I train counseling supervisors and provide therapy, so the lecture topic obviously fit my areas of expertise. After my talk, the professor asked if I could share with the students something about the development of my ethnic identity as a Latina.

I felt that I was being asked to sum up what it was like to be Mexican. Because my presentation had not covered Latino psychology or working with the Latino population per se, I was caught off guard. I asked the professor to repeat the question, just to give myself time to think. Was I really supposed to share, on demand, personal experiences that had shaped me?

I found myself wondering whether one of my white colleagues would ever hear: "In the time we have left, I wonder if you could tell us a bit about when you came to grips with your white privilege or racism?"

My first thought was to observe that asking the question exemplified white privilege. But even as I searched for a more appropriate response, I knew that the question was a wake-up call about what I may expect as a professional of color. I realized that my continuing education of others did not end last year when I left graduate school -- another setting in which I was one of too few voices representing diversity. Moreover, the question alerted me once again to the deceptively benign nature of white privilege, even in academe.

Because my lecture had focused on the development of racial identity, rather than Latino values, I suspected that the professor was not asking me to talk about my culture as much as about my experience -- as a person of color -- of prejudice, shame, pain, and rage. Here was one of those cases in which members of minority groups are not treated the same as whites, who are seldom asked to bare their souls in the interest of educating people from a different ethnic group. Although I was taken aback by the question, my cultural upbringing (which emphasizes respect for my elders and authority figures) made it impossible for me to challenge the professor in front of the students.

I felt compelled to say something, and something that I hoped the professor would not find disrespectful. So I began with a lie, stating that of course I am happy to share information about myself. Then I explained that such sharing can be a double-edged sword: When only members of ethnic minorities are asked to share, it reinforces the notion that whites have no culture to share. Accordingly, I gently invited the professor to share some personal experiences with the class as well.

For my part, I began with the story of my family's migration to the United States, which bought me some time to think. Then I talked about how I had learned that no matter how hard my family tried, or how equal we looked from an economic standpoint, I would often be called a spic. I described a visit I made to a friend, two weeks after I earned my doctoral degree. When I neared the house, a stranger who was one of my friend's neighbors asked me if I was there to clean the house. "I am looking for someone to clean my house, too," she told me.

Clearly, I did not fit her model of the type of person who would live in or visit her exclusive, gated community. As a Mexican woman, I fit her idea of a housekeeper, not a houseguest.

I sometimes feel that racism can be like a car that zooms past and splashes you with water from the nearest puddle, leaving your clothes soiled. Although my racist experiences were not my fault, at the end of the day, I was the one walking around with the sullied spirit, wishing I could wipe away the stains. The perpetrator goes on his or her way, often not even aware of having offended anyone.

As I shared my stories, I couldn't help wondering how it would change the students' perception of me as a professional. Would they feel pity or embarrassment when they saw me again? Or would they quickly forget what I had said? Which would be worse? I understood the professor's hope that my remarks would be educational, but it seemed to me that whatever I said could diminish my credibility and status as a professional in the students' eyes.

I left the class feeling exposed; I was also confused about how to deal with that feeling. I knew that I felt vulnerable because of what I had revealed to the students. I told myself it was not the professor's fault -- I could have decided to share less about my past. But I had barely had time to think what to say. In addition I suspected that my reaction was another facet of white privilege: People of color often react to racism by blaming themselves for being too sensitive.

The experience made me wonder when in the future I will be asked to "share my story" with predominantly white audiences or students whom I might have to supervise. How would I seize the opportunity to educate, without making myself feel vulnerable or as if I needed to prove something?

I certainly would not want to discourage efforts to increase multicultural awareness, but we too often expect people of color to do all the educating about diversity. In dialogues on race relations, many whites say that they have no culture, or that they are simply "American." Too often we fail to challenge those assertions. Though we have a growing body of literature related to white ethnic identity and white privilege, too little of it is included in education about multicultural awareness. And beyond the literature, white students and professors need to explore their own identities. It is too easy to focus on the group that we see as the other instead of exploring ourselves.

Now I need to figure out how to prepare myself for future confrontations with white privilege. How can whites become more conscious of the impact that their actions, comments, and assumptions have on people of color? How can we make whites more aware of their blind spots?

Multicultural education can help enlighten professors and students by including white culture in racial dialogue: In this country, all culture and ethnicity exist within the context of white privilege. Remember the popular metaphor of looking out the window. We are so used to seeing what is outside that we don't notice how the window itself shapes our perception. Multicultural awareness means refocusing our eyes so that we see the window. Is there a windowpane? Does the glass have a crack? Is there a screen? How do those factors influence our view of what we think we see? In order to help students see the windows of their culture, we need to engage white students in a dialogue about their culture, worldview, and privilege.

It would be particularly helpful if white professors shared their own journey of self-awareness with students. That openness would make fellow professionals and students of color feel less vulnerable, and it would be a valuable example for white students -- especially if the professors described moments when they recognized their own prejudice.

In addition, graduate schools need to teach students of color how to handle racism -- both conscious and unconscious -- in academe, how to educate their future white colleagues and peers about white privilege, and how to serve as mentors for their own students of color.

I wish the professor had asked me before class if I would be comfortable talking about myself to the students. I continue to struggle with the question of how much to disclose in the future. Unfortunately, that was not on the curriculum in my graduate school.

FROM: Chronicle of Higher Educaiton: http://chronicle.com/weekly/v51/i04/04b00501.htm

Volume 51, Issue 4, Page B5

"Men Are From Earth, and So Are Women. It's Faulty Research That Sets Them Apart."


Are American college professors unwittingly misleading their students by teaching widely accepted ideas about men and women that are scientifically unsubstantiated?

Why is the dominant narrative about the sexes one of difference, even though it receives little support from carefully designed peer-reviewed studies?

One reason is that findings from a handful of small studies with nonrepresentative samples have often reported wildly overgeneralized but headline-grabbing findings about gender differences. Those findings have then been picked up by the news media -- and found their way back into the academy, where they are taught as fact. At the same time, research that tends to debunk popular ideas is often ignored by the news media.

Even worse, many researchers have taken untested hypotheses at face value and used them to plan their studies. Many have also relied exclusively on statistical tests that are designed to find difference, without using tests that would show the degree of overlap between men and women. As a result, findings often suggest -- erroneously -- that the sexes are categorically different with respect to some specific variable or other.

Yet in the latest edition of its publications manual, the American Psychological Association explicitly asks researchers to consider and report the degree of overlap in statistical studies. For good reason: Even if the mean difference between groups being compared is statistically significant, it may be of trivial consequence if the distributions show a high degree of overlap. Indeed, most studies that do report the size of effects indicate that the differences between the sexes are trivial or slight on a host of personality traits and cognitive and social behaviors.

Because of such serious and pervasive problems, we believe that college students get a distorted picture about the sexes, one that overstates differences while minimizing the more accurate picture -- that of enormous overlap and similarity.

It is easy to understand why college professors might spread myths about gender differences. Many of the original studies on which such findings were based have been embraced by both the academy and the wider culture. As Martha T. Mednick, an emerita professor of psychology at Howard University, pointed out in an article some years ago, popular ideas that are intuitively appealing, even if inadequately documented, all too often take on lives of their own. They may have shaky research foundations; they may be largely disproved by later -- and better -- studies. But bandwagon concepts that have become unhitched from research moorings are rampant in academe, particularly in the classroom. For example:

Women are inherently more caring and more "relational" than men.

The chief architect of this essentialist idea is Carol Gilligan, the longtime Harvard University psychologist who is now at New York University. In the early 1980s, she laid out a new narrative for women's lives that theorized that women have a unique, caring nature not shared by men. Her ideas have revolutionized the psychology of women and revamped curricula to an unprecedented degree, some observers say. Certainly, almost every student in women's studies and the psychology of women is familiar with Gilligan. But how many are aware of the critics of her theories about women's moral development and the relational self?

Many scholarly reviews of Gilligan's research contend that it does not back up her claims, that she simply created an intriguing hypothesis that needs testing. But the relational self has become near-sacred writ, cited in textbooks, classrooms, and the news media.

Anne Alonso, a Harvard psychology professor and director of the Center for Psychoanalytic Studies at Massachusetts General Hospital, told us recently that she is dismayed by the lightning speed at which Gilligan's ideas, based on slender evidence, have been absorbed into psychotherapy. Usually new theories go through a long and rigorous process of publication in peer-reviewed journals before they are accepted by the field. "None of this work has been published in such journals. It's hard to take seriously a whole corpus of work that hasn't been peer-reviewed," Alonso said. The idea of a relational self, she charged, is simply an "idea du jour," one that she called "penis scorn."

Men don't value personal relations.

According to essentialist theorists, men are uncomfortable with any kind of communication that has to do with personal conflicts. They avoid talking about their problems. They avoid responding too deeply to other people's problems, instead giving advice, changing the subject, making a joke, or giving no response. Unlike women, they don't react to troubles talk by empathizing with others and expressing sympathy. These ideas are often cited in textbooks and in popular manuals, like those written by John Gray, a therapist, and Deborah Tannen, a linguistics professor at Georgetown University. Men are from Mars, women are from Venus, we are told. They just don't understand each other. But systematic research does not support those ideas.

An important article, "The Myth of Gender Cultures: Similarities Outweigh Differences in Men's and Women's Provision of and Responses to Supportive Communication," was published this year in Sex Roles: A Journal of Research. Erina L. MacGeorge, of Purdue University, and her colleagues at the University of Pennsylvania find no support for the idea that women and men constitute different "communication cultures." Their article, based on three studies that used questionnaires and interviews, sampled 738 people -- 417 women and 321 men.

In fact, the authors find, the sexes are very much alike in the way they communicate: "Both men and women view the provision of support as a central element of close personal relationships; both value the supportive communication skills of their friends, lovers, and family members; both make similar judgments about what counts as sensitive, helpful support; and both respond quite similarly to various support efforts."

Yet, MacGeorge and her colleagues point out, we still read in textbooks that:

"Men's and women's communication styles are startlingly dissimilar" -- The Interpersonal Communication Reader, edited by Joseph A. DeVito (Allyn and Bacon, 2002).

"American men and women come from different sociolinguistic subcultures, having learned to do different things with words in a conversation" -- a chapter by Daniel N. Maltz and Ruth A. Borker in Language and Social Identity (Cambridge University Press, 1982), edited by John J. Gumperz.

"Husbands and wives, especially in Western societies, come from two different cultures with different learned behaviors and communication styles" -- a chapter by Carol J.S. Bruess and Judy C. Pearson in Gendered Relationships (Mayfield, 1996), edited by Julia T. Wood.

Gender differences in mate selection are pervasive and well established.

Evolutionary psychologists like David M. Buss, a professor at the University of Texas at Austin, tell us in such books as The Evolution of Desire: Strategies of Human Mating (Basic Books, 1994) that men and women differ widely with respect to the traits they look for in a potential mate. Men, such writers claim, lust after pretty, young, presumably fertile women. Pop culture revels in this notion: Men want young and beautiful mates. There is, it is presumed, a universal female type beloved by men -- young, unlined, with features that are close to those of an infant -- that signals fertility. If there were a universal male preference for beautiful young women, it would have to be based on a strong correlation between beauty and reproductive success. Sure, Richard Gere chose Julia Roberts in Pretty Woman because of her beauty and youth. But would those qualities have assured enhanced fertility?

The answer, according to empirical research, seems to be no. Having a pretty face as a young adult has no relationship to the number of children a woman produces or to her health across the life span. Among married women, physical attractiveness is unrelated to the number of children they produce. If beauty has little to do with reproductive success, why would nature insist that men select for it? It seems more likely that having a young beauty on his arm indicates, instead, that a man is living up to certain cultural and social norms.

According to some who take what we call an ultra-Darwinist stance, there is no mystery about whom women prefer as a mate: The man with resources to feed and protect her future children. The combination of wealth, status, and power (which usually implies an older man) makes "an attractive package in the eyes of the average woman," as Robert Wright, a journalist and author of The Moral Animal: The New Science of Evolutionary Psychology (Pantheon, 1994), sums up the argument.

But those who believe that gender roles are shaped at least as much by culture and environment as by biology point out that women's preference for older good providers fits perfectly with the rise of the industrial state. That system, which often called for a male breadwinner and a female working at home, arose in the United States in the 1830s, was dominant until the 1970s, and then declined.

If that is correct, then we should see a declining preference for older men who are good providers, particularly among women with resources. In fact, a study by Alice Eagly, a psychologist at Northwestern University, and Wendy Wood, of Duke University, suggests that as gender equality in society has increased, women have expressed less of a preference for older men with greater earning potential. The researchers have found that when women have access to their own resources, they do not look for age in mates, but prefer qualities like empathy, understanding, and the ability to bond with children. The desire for an older "provider" is evidently not in women's genes. Terri D. Fisher, a psychologist at Ohio State University, told a reporter last year that whenever she teaches her college students the ultra-Darwinian take on the power of youth and beauty, the young men smile and nod and the young women look appalled.

For girls, self-esteem plummets at early adolescence.

Girls face an inevitable crisis of self-esteem as they approach adolescence. They are in danger of losing their voices, drowning, and facing a devastating dip in self-regard that boys don't experience. This is the picture that Carol Gilligan presented on the basis of her research at the Emma Willard School, a private girls' school in Troy, N.Y. While Gilligan did not refer to genes in her analysis of girls' vulnerability, she did cite both the "wall of Western culture" and deep early childhood socialization as reasons.

Her theme was echoed in 1994 by the clinical psychologist Mary Pipher's surprise best seller, Reviving Ophelia (Putnam, 1994), which spent three years on The New York Times best-seller list. Drawing on case studies rather than systematic research, Pipher observed how naturally outgoing, confident girls get worn down by sexist cultural expectations. Gilligan's and Pipher's ideas have also been supported by a widely cited study in 1990 by the American Association of University Women. That report, published in 1991, claimed that teenage girls experience a "free-fall in self-esteem from which some will never recover."

The idea that girls have low self-esteem has by now become part of the academic canon as well as fodder for the popular media. But is it true? No.

Critics have found many faults with the influential AAUW study. When children were asked about their self-confidence and academic plans, the report said 60 percent of girls and 67 percent of boys in elementary school responded, "I am happy the way I am." But by high school, the percentage of girls happy with themselves fell to 29 percent. Could it be that 71 percent of the country's teenage girls were low in self-esteem? Not necessarily. The AAUW counted as happy only those girls who checked "always true" to the question about happiness. Girls who said they were "sometimes" happy with themselves or "sort of" happy with themselves were counted as unhappy.

A sophisticated look at the self-esteem data is far more reassuring than the headlines. A new analysis of all of the AAUW data, and a meta-analysis of hundreds of studies, done by Janet Hyde, a psychologist at the University of Wisconsin at Madison, showed no huge gap between boys and girls. Indeed, Hyde found that the self-esteem scores of boys and girls were virtually identical. In particular there was no plunge in scores for girls during the early teen years -- the supposed basis for the idea that girls "lost their voices" in that period. Parents, understandably concerned about noxious, hypersexual media images, may gaze in horror at those images while underestimating the resilience of their daughters, who are able to thrive in spite of them.

Boys have a mathematics gene, or at least a biological tendency to excel in math, that girls do not possess.

Do boys have a mathematics gene -- or at least a biological tendency to excel in math -- that girls lack, as a popular stereotype has it? Suffice it to say that, despite being discouraged from pursuing math at almost every level of school, girls and women today are managing to perform in math at high levels.

Do data support arguments for hard-wired gender differences? No. In 2001 Erin Leahey and Guang Guo, then a graduate student and an assistant professor of sociology, respectively, at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, looked at some 20,000 math scores of children ages 4 to 18 and found no differences of any magnitude, even in areas that are supposedly male domains, such as reasoning skills and geometry.

The bandwagon concepts that we have discussed here are strongly held and dangerous. Even though they have been seriously challenged, they continue to be taught by authority figures in the classroom. These ideas are embedded in the curricula of courses in child and adolescent development, moral development, education, moral philosophy, feminist pedagogy, evolutionary psychology, gender studies, and the psychology of women.

Few students have the ability to investigate the accuracy of the claims on their own. And since these ideas resonate with the cultural zeitgeist, students would have little reason to do so in any case. The essentialist perspective has so colored the dialogue about the sexes that there is scant room for any narrative other than difference.

Obviously the difference rhetoric can create harm for both men and women. Men are taught to believe that they are deficient in caring and empathy, while women are led to believe that they are inherently unsuited for competition, leadership, and technological professions. Given how little empirical support exists for essentialist ideas, it's crucial that professors broaden the dialogue, challenging the conventional wisdom and encouraging their students to do so as well.

Chronicle of Higher Education: http://chronicle.com/weekly/v51/i02/02b01101.htm

Vol. 51, Issue 2, Page B11

"When Are Racial Disparities in Education the Result of Racial Discrimination? A Social Science Perspective"

by Roslyn Arlin Mickelson — 2003


In this article I seek to answer the question, "When are racial disparities in education the result of racial discrimination?" To answer it I synthesize the social science research on racially correlated disparities in education. My review draws from the sociology, anthropology, political science, psychology, history, and education literatures. I organize explanations into six categories: biological determinism, social structure, school organization and opportunities to learn, family background, culture, and the state. I arrive at three answers. The first is a definition: Racial discrimination in education arises from actions of institutions or individual state actors, their attitudes and ideologies, or processes that systematically treat students from different racial/ethnic groups disparately or inequitably. The second answer is that while distinguishing racial discrimination from disparities may be an interesting intellectual, legal, and statistical challenge, the conclusion probably is less meaningful than social scientists and policy makers might hope. The third answer follows from the first two. I propose the following reformulation of the original question: "When are racial disparities in education not due to discrimination?" I argue that the reformulated question is more likely to bring solutions to the race gap than the original one. Even if we conclude that discrimination does not cause racial disparities in education, we should not conclude that schools have no role in addressing them. If public schools do not address educational disparities, then who or what institution will?


Globalization, immigration, and the post-Fordist information-based economy are transforming 21st century America. The hallmarks of globalization—the flow of capital, information, and people across political boundaries—are sure to enrich, challenge, and complicate contemporary society. Public education already is experiencing many of the challenges associated with these trends. Schools and communities more ethnically and racially diverse than ever before. Racial and ethnic disparities in educational are not new to America's schools. Recent demographic, political, and economic shifts have the potential to exacerbate existing inequalities. In addition, social class and gender divisions complicate the emerging racial gaps in educational outcomes.

Identifying when disparities are the result of discrimination is difficult. Historically, racial discrimination was integral to public education, the intentional result of discriminatory laws and practices. Jim Crow education was designed, implemented, and upheld by the state (Anderson, 1988; Kluger, 1977; Walker, 1999; Walters, 2001; Watkins, 2001).2 Since the middle of the last century, however, laws, court rulings, and policies of the state—along with many heroic efforts by private citizens—have eliminated the formal legal architecture of educational discrimination. During the past three decades legal segregation has been outlawed, although de facto resegregation is on the increase (Clodfelter, Ladd, & Vigor, 2002; Orfield & Gordon, 2001; Orfield & Yun, 1999; Yun & Reardon, 2002). Importantly, literacy and median years of schooling are comparable among blacks and whites, multicultural curricula are used widely; and overtly racist material has been eliminated. Gamoran (2001) points out that any comparison of American education today with that of 1901 reveals overt racial discrimination and disparities in school outcomes have been reduced dramatically. Nevertheless, racially correlated disparities continue.


This article has two tasks: first, to synthesize the extant social science research on racially correlated disparities in education to better understand their structural and cultural antecedents because doing so helps clarify when such disparities are the results of discrimination and, second, to identify the key points in students' educational trajectories at which discrimination is likely to occur. My review of the social science literature draws from the sociology, anthropology, political science, psychology, history, and education literatures.3 Although I attend to student-level factors, I heed Coleman's (1994) admonition to scholars and make the explanatory focus of this article the social system, not the individual.

I begin by theorizing race and racial identity because they are central to any discussion of discrimination in education and are crucial to the social dynamics in racially plural societies like America. In the next section I catalog current racial disparities in education and propose how we might conceptualize when disparities are due to discrimination. In the third section I synthesize the substantive and theoretical social science literature accounting for racial disparities and discrimination in education. I conclude with a series of answers to the question suggested in the title, what constitutes racial discrimination in education? The final answer reconceptualizes the core problem itself: Rather than considering when disparities reflect discrimination, I propose that the more appropriate question is "When are racial disparities in education not discrimination?" I announce this reformulation now in the hope that it will guide the reading of this article.


Race and racial identity are central to this article, but these subjects are too immense to be fully theorized here. I consider race and ethnicity to be historically contingent social constructs intimately entwined with identity; they are meaningful and consequential in a sociopolitical and historical context (Waters, 1990). Recent theories of race and ethnicity, such as racial formation theory (Omi & Winant, 1986) and critical race theory (Delgado & Stefancic, 2001) require us to consider the process-oriented and relational character of racial meanings and identities.


Social scientists generally agree that races are socially constructed in loose relation to perceived phenotypical differences among humans. Ethnicity relates to national ancestry and signifies the cultural, linguistic, and historical differences among groups. Key aspects of ethnicity are the beliefs on the part of people who identify with an ethnic group that they descend from common ancestors, share a common culture with coethnics, and choose to identify with that ethnic group (Waters, 1990).

A group's history of contact with the United States, the conditions of its incorporation into American society, and the contemporary politics of an ethnic group's country of origin influence the way an ethnic group constructs its identity, the nature of the education historically provided, and the barriers or bridges to education currently afforded its children. For example, the U.S. government extends special educational privileges to most Cuban American children because of their status as political refugees from a communist state. Haitians, however, are defined as economic refugees and thus do not enjoy these privileges (Schmidt, 2001; Van Hook, 2002).


Racial self-identity has two complementary aspects: how others identify a person's race and how the person constructs her or his own racial identity, in part as a reaction to others' behavior. Both aspects are relevant to racial discrimination in education. A student's racial or ethnic self-identity need not be consistent with others' construction of that identity. On the other hand, racial dynamics in the United States are concerned less with how an individual constructs his or her racial identity than with how others perceive, construct, and label it (Fordham, 1996; McCarthy & Crichlow, 1993). To capture the dynamic interplay between culture, structure, and agency in producing discrimination in education, one must consider the contributions of all three to racial identity.

O'Connor (2001, p. 159) observes that, to make sense of the ways that culture, structure, and human agency affect achievement outcomes, we must understand how people are positioned differently in the social world and how in that world, individuals have multiple social identities. She observes that students experience their own structured and cultured social identity both by interpreting and performing their identities (reflection) and by registering and reacting to others' responses to them (refraction). To paraphrase Cousins (2002), racial identity is not simply about being black, biracial, white, Latino, Asian, or Native American in a white world but about being so in a white, media- and technology-saturated, capitalist- and information-driven globalizing world of relations between youths and adults, boys and girls, and men and women.


To truly fulfill the article's mission, would require me to include comparative research on students who are Asian, Latino, biracial, and Native American (including American Indians, Inuits, Hawaiians, and other Pacific Islanders), as well as black and white. Even panethnic labels such as Asian or Latino mask important ethnic distinctions within these larger categories (Lopez & Espiritu, 1990). Any comprehensive treatment of discrimination in education would include issues of generation, language, and immigration status as well, but these topics are well beyond the scope of this article. Therefore, despite problematizing the concepts of race and ethnicity, and arguing for concepts that are socially constructed, historical, relational, and variable, I yield to the practicalities of space and mission and contradict key aspects of the above arguments. That is, I focus primarily on black-white racial disparities, and when I label students, I use the five static categories commonly employed by the federal government and most school systems: Asian Americans, blacks, Hispanics, Native Americans, and whites.


During the 1970s and 1980s, the racial gap in educational outcomes narrowed (Grissmer, Flanagan, & Williamson, 1998). Today, however, racially correlated disparities in K–12 education are present in grades, test scores, retention and dropout rates, graduation rates, identification for special education and gifted programs, extracurricular and cocurricular involvement, and discipline rates. The task of determining when educational disparities are caused by racial discrimination is complicated by the close association of race with social class.4 Sorting out race effects from class effects is extremely difficult, both conceptually and methodologically. Reviews of recent large-scale studies suggest that at most, socioeconomic background explains 33% of the racial gap in education (Hedges & Nowell, 1998, 1999; Jencks & Phillips, 1998). This leaves a large portion of the variance in racial disparities in education that must be explained by factors other than social class differences among students of different races.


According to results obtained by the National Assessment of Educational Progress (NAEP), white, black, and Latino students in all assessment years (ages 9, 13, 17) show gains in mathematics between the mid-1970s and the late 1990s. Whites and blacks show gains in science for 9 and 13 year old students, and Latino students show gains in science across all assessment years. Among blacks and Latinos, overall gains in reading appear at each age; for whites, reading gains are evident for 9- and 13-year-old students (Campbell, Hombo, & Mazzeo, 2000; Hedges & Nowell, 1998, 1999). The gains, however, conceal an important story. According to Michael Nettles, minority children have mastered the basics but not higher level skills (Hoff, 2000).

NAEP results indicate that white students score higher in reading, mathematics, and science than do blacks and Latinos. According to Hedges and Nowell (1998, 1999) other national surveys indicate racial gaps comparable in size to the current differences found in NAEP: The black-white differences among 17-year olds range from 0.7 SD in reading to approximately 0.9 SD in mathematics. NAEP results suggest that racial gaps in test scores held steady among 9- and 17-year-old students but declined among 13-year-olds (Campbell et al., 2000). In short, across all three age cohorts in all three subjects, the smallest test gaps occurred in the 1980s; although the gaps of the 1990s were larger than in the previous decade, they were smaller than in the 1970s (Campbell et al., 2000; Gamoran, 2001; Hedges & Nowell, 1999).

SAT results reflect similar patterns. The College Board (2001) reports that SAT verbal scores are highest among whites (528) and lowest among blacks (434); SAT mathematics scores are highest among Asians (565, whites average 530) and lowest among blacks (426).

Other educational indicators show similar differences by race. Using Current Population Surveys, Hauser, Simmons, and Pager (2000) report that dropout rates are the lowest among whites and highest among Latinos. Since the 1970s, rates have declined among whites and blacks but not among Latinos. Blacks are more likely than whites to repeat a grade (Campbell et al. 2000) and to be placed in special education programs (Oswald, Coutinho, & Best, 2000), especially in school systems operating under court orders to desegregate (Eitle, 2002). Blacks, Latinos, and Native Americans disproportionately are found in lower tracks (Hallinan, 1998; Lucas, 1999; Lucas & Berends, 2002; Mickelson, 2001; Oakes, 1985, 1994; Oakes, Muir, & Joseph, 2000; Welner, 2001) where curricula and instructional practices are weaker. Minorities attend schools where they have access to fewer advanced placement classes than whites (Pachón, Federman, & Castillo, in press). Blacks, Latinos, and Native Americans are more likely to learn in schools with fewer material and teacher resources, a weaker academic press, and greater concentrations of poor, homeless, limited English-speaking, and immigrant students (Kahlenberg, 2001; Lee, Burkam, & LoGerfo, 2001; Natriello, McDill, & Pallas, 1990; Van Hook, 2002).


As shown previously, the task of describing racial disparities is fairly straightforward. Determining when they are caused by racial discrimination is far more complex, however. We can all agree on simple instances of discrimination—a racist teacher or a dual school system—but it is more challenging to identify complex cases because they result from the cumulative effects of institutions' and people's actions conditioned by structure and culture and framed by history.

Under Jim Crow education, disparities in opportunities to learn and in outcomes were caused by official racial discrimination against blacks, Native Americans and (in some states) Asians and Latinos. Today, however, one can argue that racially correlated disparities may or may not be due to racial discrimination. For example, racial gaps in test scores are not necessarily evidence of discrimination—unless there are systematic racial differences in opportunities to learn (OTL) materials on the tests and in access to licensed, experienced educators. Similarly, not all racial disparities in track placement are necessarily discriminatory. Although decisions in track placement decisions lie primarily with educators, the students and their parents also are involved in the choices to varying degrees. Yet if comparably able students of different races are placed systematically in different tracks because educators teach, advise, or schedule blacks differently than whites, we may conclude that discrimination is involved. The existence of systematic racial disparities over time suggests the school system engages in institutional discriminatory practices.


In this article I focus on the not-so-simple manifestations of racial discrimination and on the complex, often ambiguous processes that generate them. To successfully distinguish when the race gap is more than a disparity and is discrimination, it is necessary to survey the explanations offered by social scientists for the gap. I organize explanations for the race gap in educational outcomes into six major categories: biological determinism, social structure, school structures and opportunities to learn, family background, culture, and the state.


Periodically during the 20th century, theories that the racial gap is due to inherited, fixed racial differences in cognitive abilities circulate in the popular and scientific press (Jensen, 1969; Terman, 1923). Herrnstein and Murray (1994) resurrected this argument with The Bell Curve, a book claiming that racial and social class differences in educational achievement, attainment, wealth, and poverty are the result of immutable genetic differences in cognitive ability. They recommended an end to what they regard as futile social welfare and educational programs designed to eliminate racial and class gaps in outcomes.

Decades ago, anthropologists established that the relationship between genetic diversity and racial/ethnic diversity is weak; diversity in the former does not map easily onto the latter because genetic variation within socially constructed racial groups is greater than between those groups (Marks, 2002b). Moreover, genetic variations among humans do not predict patterns of behavioral diversity (Marks, 2002c). The scholarship of biologists (Gould, 1981), molecular anthropologists (Marks, 2002a), cognitive psychologists (Gardner, 1993; Myerson, Frank, Rains, & Schnitzler, 1998) and sociologists (Fisher et al. 1996; Sorensen & Hallinan, 1986) has discredited the putative scientific basis of biological determinist explanations for racial differences in academic performance.


Enduring inequalities in outcomes tarnish the significant accomplishments of American educational institutions. The United States is not unique in this regard: Blossfeld and Shavit (1993) examined 13 industrialized nations and found that the relative likelihood of graduating from secondary school and entering higher education for people from different socioeconomic backgrounds has remained essentially the same over the past several decades despite an enormous expansion of educational capacity in all 13 nations. In the Netherlands and Sweden, where overall social inequality declined, so did the effects of social background on educational attainment. In view of the relationship between race and social class, it is therefore necessary to consider the connection between social stratification and the racial gap in educational outcomes.

During the past few decades, racial inequality in educational outcomes has declined. But can we anticipate that the race gap will eventually disappear? From a social stratification perspective, the answer is it depends, because approximately one third of the racial gap is estimated to be due to social class. Thus, even if racial discrimination in education were to be obliterated, a racial gap still would exist because blacks (and most other minorities) are poorer than whites.

Reproduction Theory

Social scientists offer a number of theories to explain the resilience and durability of class differences in educational outcomes. One of the most provocative is reproduction theory. Over 25 years ago, Bowles and Gintis (1976) argued that in a capitalist society, schools are designed to reproduce the class system by providing unequal education to children according to their class of origin. Because the social relations of school (and the home) correspond to the social relations of production, schools foster capitalist structures of production and reproduce class inequities. Reproduction theory has been criticized for undertheorizing race and gender, for failing to show explicitly how schooling reproduces class inequality, and as overdeterministic. Whatever its theoretical shortcomings, reproduction theory offers a powerful analysis of the differential opportunities to learn that exist along class lines.

Resistance Theory

Resistance theory (Giroux, 1981; MacFarland, 2000; MacLeod, 1986; Willis, 1977) incorporate human agency into the processes by which schools reproduce class inequality. Resistance theorists argue that youths respond to the disjuncture they see between (on the one hand) promises of mobility and social transformation through educational success and (on the other) a stratified political economy in which class inequalities are daily realities. Adolescents' partial understanding of this disjuncture results in conscious challenges to schooling. By rejecting educational credentials, however, resistant students foreclose any possibilities of upward mobility through education. Like reproduction theory, resistance theory undertheorizes the role of race and gender in social and educational inequality.

Maximally Maintained Inequality

Class inequality in education has not declined despite the increase in educational access during the last century because dominant social groups have preserved their advantaged positions. Once disadvantaged groups attain the educational credentials previously held by the dominant groups, the credential requirements for higher status jobs are raised. Social and educational inequalities are maintained because privileged groups are able to protect their advantages until all group members reach a given status (such as high school graduation or a BA degree). Then the credential requirements for status maintenance and mobility are ratcheted up to the next level, where the elites are better able to meet the new standards. Raftery and Hout (1993) theorize that these dynamics operate as a maximally maintained inequality (MMI) system.

Effectively Maintained Inequality

Lucas's (2001) theory of effectively maintained inequality (EMI) refines MMI. Lucas notes that the effects of social background operate in at least two ways: they influence who completes a given level of education if completion is not universal at that level, and they influence the kind of education people will receive within levels of education that are nearly universal (such as high school). Curricular tracking is a central mechanism through which EMI operates. For example, EMI is the key reason why more highly privileged parents vigorously fight tracking reforms (Wells & Serna, 1996). The social background factors that determine whether students will continue schooling also effect where in the stratified curriculum they will be schooled. As they make the transitions from elementary school through higher education, their location in the stratified curriculum at any given point has implications for their curricular trajectories during the remainder of their educational careers. In these ways, Lucas concludes, advantages of social background effectively maintain educational privilege for children of the advantaged (pp. 1678–1681).

All four models describe how social structure intersects with schooling to generate racial discrimination in educational outcomes. This is the case because social reproduction and mobility depend on not only the acquisition of educational credentials, both in terms of skills and certification, but also socialization into the relations of production. As I show in the following sections, discrimination influences racial differences in the opportunities to acquire these educational credentials.


As Lee (2002) observes, we cannot hold schools responsible for the racial and class disparities in school readiness that are evident as soon as kindergartners walk through the classroom doors. The educational system is responsible, however, for the initial disparities by race that grow rather than diminish with each year children attend school.

American school systems (almost 16,000) are highly stratified on precisely the dimensions that are most related to student achievement. The ways schools are stratified is documented in numerous scientific and popular articles and books. School organization is a key contributing factor to educational stratification. Possibly the most powerful recent popular account of this inequality appears in Kozol's (1992) Savage Inequalities in which the author describes the breadth and depth of racial and class differences in schooling across the United States. In this section I focus on the relationship between the racial gap and three aspects of school organization: resources, racial composition, and tracking.


Whether money matters for school outcomes is a longstanding debate dating back at least to the Coleman Report's finding that funding is not closely related to achievement (Coleman et al., 1966). Although skeptics remain unconvinced (Hanushek, 1994, 1996, 1997), a growing body of research establishes that money does matter and that where and how the money is spent is also extremely important (Ferguson, 1998a, 1998b; Greenwald, Hedges, & Laineet, 1994; Hedges, Laine, & Greenwald, 1994a, 1994b; Weglinsky, 1997).5

Not only bricks and books but also human resources, such as high-quality, experienced, credentialed teachers instructing in their area of expertise in small classes (Darling-Hammond, 2000; Ingersoll, 1999; Lankford, Loeb, & Wyckoff, 2002), are directly related to money. Other resources are indirectly related to funding levels, such as stable peers, active involvement by parents, motivated peers who value achievement and who share knowledge with classmates, and a school climate imbued with high expectations. These are associated with the racial and SES composition of communities (Kahlenberg, 2001).6

Students who attend resource-poor schools are disproportionately members of minority groups (Duncan & Brooks-Gunn, 1997; Lee, Burkam, and LoGerfo 2001; Payne & Biddle, 1999). Given the system of public school financing, which depends largely on property taxes, and in view of the racial segregation in public and private housing markets (Powell, Kearney, & Kay, 2001), it is not surprising to find racial (and class) differences in school financial resources and in the opportunities to learn that they purchase.

The key here is that blacks and other minorities are less likely than whites to have equitable access to these critical resources both within and between school systems. The racial discriminatory practices that generate and allocate resources inequitably to schools contribute to the racial gap in outcomes.

State Racial Composition

The original social science rationale for school desegregation rests largely on claims that desegregation improves black youths' access to the higher-quality education more often provided to whites. Almost five decades after the epochal Brown v. Board of Education (1954) decision, there is little argument about the positive long-term effects of desegregation on minority students' status attainment, racial attitudes, and other life course indicators (Armor, 1995; Braddock & McPartland, 1988; Crain & Mahard, 1978; Hawley, 2002; Wells & Crain, 1994). Although the Coleman Report (Coleman et al., 1966) showed that academic outcomes were better for blacks who attended desegregated schools, until recently questions remained about the positive short-term effects of desegregation on minority youths' achievement (Armor, 1995; Cook, 1984; St. John, 1975).

A growing body of recent research identifies the benefits of desegregation and the harms of segregation. Grissmer, Kirby, Berends, and Williamson (1994) concluded, on the basis of comparisons of NAEP scores over time, that the significant increases in academic achievement of black students in some states and not in others were due, in part, to desegregation during the 1970s and1980s. Hallinan's (1998) synthesis of the social science evidence identifies multiple positive effects of diversity on students' outcomes. A group of eminent social scientists filed an amicus curiae brief supporting desegregation in the 1992 Freeman v. Pitts case (School Desegregation: A Social Science Statement, 1991). These researchers argued that when schools employ practices that enhance equality of opportunity, including the elimination of tracking and ability grouping, desegregation produces clear (albeit modest) academic benefits for black students and does no harm to white students.

Other recent empirical research offers further evidence of the harm of segregation (Bankston & Caldas, 1996) and positive academic outcomes from desegregated schooling (Brown, 1999). My own survey research reveals that the longer blacks and whites learned in desegregated schools and classrooms, the better are their academic outcomes (Mickelson, 2001, 2002a). I also found that many of the potential gains of desegregation were subverted by resegregation through tracking, even in "desegregated" schools.

Hawley (2002) synthesized the extant empirical literature on the effects of diversity on educational quality for the U.S. Department of Justice. He concluded that "students who have the opportunities to learn in schools that are populated by students from different races and ethnicities can have an education that is superior to that of students who do not have this opportunity" (p. 1).

Even as America's schools resegregate (Orfield & Eaton, 1996; Orfield & Yun, 1999; Yun & Reardon, 2002), several recent federal court decisions have concluded that contemporary manifestations of school segregation are not evidence of dual systems (Board of Educ. of Oklahoma v. Dowell, 1991; Capacchione v. Charlotte-Mecklenburg Schools, 1999; Freeman v. Pitts, 1992). However, judicial standards of evidence are often quite different from social science standards of evidence (Ryan, 2002), and, in my view, racially discriminatory practices by the school boards generate de facto resegregation. These actions include drawing school boundaries in ways that maximize racial homogeneity in schools, siting of new schools in white suburbs rather than midway between black and white communities, permitting greater numbers of advanced placement courses to be offered in middle-class white schools, or allowing the better teachers unfettered freedom to move to schools with less challenging, middle-class students. Therefore any race differences in outcomes that can be traced to resegregation—differential access to better teachers, safer schools, more rigorous academic climates—are evidence of racial discrimination by a school system.


As Hallinan and Sorensen (1977) observed, students cannot learn what they are not taught, no matter how highly motivated and how capable they are. Numerous studies indicates that student in higher tracks—even less academically able ones—learn more because they are exposed to broader curricula and better teaching (Braddock & Dawkins, 1993; Darity, Castellino, & Tyson, 2001; Finley, 1984; Gamoran & Mare, 1989; Hallinan, 2001; Mehan, Villanueva, Hubbard, & Lintz, 1996; Oakes et al., 2000; Slavin, 1990). Research also shows that a critical component of the racial gap in achievement is the relative absence of black students in higher-level courses and their disproportionate enrollment in lower-level ones (Oakes, 1993, 1994a; Jencks & Phillips, 1998; Lucas, 1999; Mickelson, 2001; Oakes, 1990, 1993, 1994a 1994b; Wheelock, 1992).7

Tracking and ability grouping begin very early in children's school careers (Alexander, Entwisle, & Lettgers, 1998; Kornhaber, 1997) and have consequences that follow students throughout the course of their education. The effects of ability grouping and tracking are cumulative: young students who possess similar social backgrounds and cognitive abilities but who learn in different tracks become more and more academically dissimilar each year they spend in school.

Central to tracking theory is the notion that track placement processes are objective, technical, and rational rather than subjective or arbitrary (Kulik & Kulik, 1982, 1987). Any flaws in the execution of tracking are merely glitches in implementation, not system design (Hallinan, 1994). Pallas and Natriello (1999) investigated the process of tracking. They dispel any remaining assumptions we may hold that tracking decisions are systematically objective and rational. They show that arbitrary and idiosyncratic placement decisions are common, and can be related to seat availability in classes or students' ascribed characteristics. A growing body of research (Baker & Stevenson, 1986; Kornhaber, 1997; Lareau, 1987; Lareau & Horvat, 2001; Lee, Smith, & Croninger, 1997; Lucas, 1999; Oakes, 1985; Useem, 1992; Wells & Serna, 1996) documents how privileged parents use their superior financial resources, knowledge, and social networks to ensure that their children are placed into the top academic trajectories. That schools and school personnel respond favorably to exercises of these race and class advantages is part of the problem.

The relationship between desegregation and tracking often is discussed in terms of first- and second-generation segregation (Meier, Stewert, & England, 1989; Welner & Oakes, 1996). First-generation segregation generally involves the racial composition of schools within a single district; second-generation segregation involves the racially correlated allocation of educational opportunities within schools, and typically is accomplished by tracking. Because tracking can undermine the potential benefits of policies such as busing which are designed to eliminate first- generation segregation, some courts have ruled since 1967 that it is unconstitutional for school districts to use tracking and ability grouping specifically to circumvent desegregation at the school level (Hobson v. Hansen, 1967; People Who Care v. Rockford Board of Education, 1994). Even so, researchers find tracking is used to maintain an unofficial white track within a desegregated school (Kornhaber, 1997; Mickelson, 2001; Welner, 2001). For example, Eitle's (2002) nationwide study reports higher levels of racially identifiable tracking of blacks into special education in districts under a court-ordered desegregation plan than in districts not under such orders. Once again, in accord with my definition of discrimination, I conclude that racially correlated ability grouping and tracking practices result in racially discriminatory educational outcomes.


Explanations for racial disparities in school outcomes that focus on family background fall into two broad categories. The first concerns characteristics of families, such as the number of children, the marriage status of parents, the number of adults in the household, wealth and income, and the adults' educational attainment. All of these indicators correlate with race. The second category concerns social class dynamics. These dynamics are deeply connected with the ways in which families interact with schools, how parents socialize their children for schooling, and how parents participate in their children's education.

Parents from different ethnic and social class backgrounds possess different levels and types of the resources critical for their children's education (Garcia, 2001; Guo & Van Wey, 1999; Hidalgo, McDowell, & Siddle, 1990; Irvine, 1990; Phillips et al., 1998; Roscigno, 1998, 2000; Suter, 2000; Yonazawa 1997). Many social scientists find it useful to consider families' resources as their human, financial, social, and cultural capital. In my view, differences in families' capital resources contribute to racially discriminatory outcomes because of the ways in which school practices and school employees fail grant privileges to elite families who have them and fail families who lack them.

Financial and Human Capital

Lee and her colleagues (Lee, Burkam, & LoGerfo, 2002) used a nationally representative early childhood data set to demonstrate the race and class inequalities in children's school readiness are evident when they first walk through the kindergarten classroom door. The association between family background and schooling was well known even when the Coleman Report (Coleman et al., 1966) reaffirmed its importance. Families' financial capital influences how well children eat, their health, and what kinds of books, if any, are present in their homes. In addition to the necessities of life, money purchases access to the best developmental preschools, tutors, computers, psychologists who test for giftedness, and homes with quiet bedrooms for doing homework. If one parent earns enough to support the family, the other parent is free to volunteer in the child's school (this assumes a two parent family). Parents' own human capital influences student outcomes as well: for example, the more education parents have, the better able they are to help with their children's homework. When schools are neutral with regard to (or passively accept) students' differences in parental resources, parents' resources (or lack there of) interact with school organizational structures and practices in ways that contribute to discrimination in education.

Social Capital

Social capital refers to student and parental knowledge about how to ask and whom to ask in schools, networks of parents who share information on how to customize their children's educational careers, and shared confidence and trust in school personnel (Baker & Stevenson, 1986; Bourdieu & Passeron, 1977; Carbonaro, 1998; de Graaf, 1986; Hilliard, 1989; Kerckhoff, 1996; Lareau & Shumar, 1996; Ma, 1999; Muller, 1998).8 Because of the ways in which public schools are organized, staffed, and operate, the social capital of educated middle-class white families is more conducive to school success than is the social capital of less highly educated ethnic minority and/or poorer families.9 Bryk, Lee, and Holland (1993) found that one reason for the success of Catholic schools is the social capital shared by the students' families. Catholic schools' sense of community, trust, common mission, and shared responsibility for all children contribute to every student's success.


Cultural Capital

Bourdieu's (1977) theory of cultural capital bridges cultural and structural dimensions of family background. It illuminates the (dis)continuity between the material and the symbolic elements of school and family cultures. Bourdieu viewed cultural capital as a mechanism for transferring class advantage from one generation to another. According to Lareau and Horvat (1999), Bourdieu's major insight into educational inequality is that, because schools embody dominant cultural forms (expressed in dialect, demeanor, tastes, sensibilities, stock of elite knowledge), students who possess more of the valued cultural capital fare better than do their otherwise comparable peers who possess less of this capital. A great deal of research demonstrates the relationships between possession of cultural capital and positive school outcomes (DiMaggio, 1982; Dumais, 2002; Farkas, 1996; Lamont & Lareau, 1988; Lareau, 1987; Lareau & Horvat, 1999).

Lareau and Horvat (1999) show that the value of cultural capital depends heavily on the particular social setting, on parents' and students' skill at activating their cultural capital resources, and on the reciprocal, negotiated process by which social actors in schools respond to the activation and accord it legitimacy. Lareau and Horvat argue that these factors create moments of inclusion or moments of exclusion for families. They show how the historical legacy of racial discrimination—in conjunction with school structures and operations—makes it more difficult for black parents, independent of their social class, to activate their cultural capital on behalf of their children.

Cultural Deprivation and Cultural Difference

Cultural deprivation theories (Lewis, 1966; Loury, 1985) propose that school failures stem from values and norms that are ill suited for school success (e.g., present verses future orientation). The insidious underlying assumption is that students from nonmainstream (and by implication, inferior) cultures are deprived. Policies based on cultural deprivation theory seek to change the culture of students and their families so that their behaviors better suit the demands of the school. Cultural deprivation theories form the basis for much of the original compensatory education movement but have been largely replaced with more benign theories of cultural difference (Valentine, 1969).

Without implying cultural superiority of mainstream culture, cultural difference theorists argue that racial variations in educational outcomes exist because cultural practices and values of certain racial and ethnic groups are more conducive to educational success (Bernstein, 1977; Bialystok & Hakuta, 1994; Delpit, 1996; Heath, 1983). For example, Caplan, Choy, and Whitmore (1991) identify a cohesive family and hard work as the "core" values that form the basis of Southeast Asian refugees' beliefs; these have enabled their youths to achieve well only a few years after their arrival in the United States. It is not clear, however, that core educational values of minorities who enjoy less success in school, such as blacks and Latinos, are essentially different from those of ethnic minorities who are more successful (for a somewhat different view, see Steinberg, Brown, & Dornbusch, 1992).

Cultural difference theorists also argue that school problems are linked to the failure of white-controlled educational institutions to incorporate nondominant cultures into school culture, curricula, pedagogy, or structures (Hallinan, 2001). Much of the multicultural education movement is a response to this critique (Banks, 2003).

Oppositional Cultural Framework

On the basis of ethnographic data he collected after conducting fieldwork in Stockton, California and elsewhere, Ogbu (1991) and Ogbu and Simons (1998) propose the existence of an oppositional cultural framework that influences minority achievement. They argued that many black students, as members of an involuntary minority group, often reject educational achievement as an avenue for success. They perceive labor market discrimination as a relatively permanent barrier that cannot be scaled through education, and they develop alternative frameworks for "making it." Cultural and language differences from whites become markers of a collective identity as an oppressed people. This perspective is expressed in black students' pointed disdain for the alleged link between education and opportunity. Based on their collective history of discrimination, and the perception that schools are majority-controlled institutions, activities associated with school success (speaking standard English, carrying books, doing homework, studying for tests) come to be viewed as compromises of black social identity and group solidarity. In this way, academic achievement comes to be associated with "acting white" (Fordham & Ogbu, 1986; Ogbu & Simons, 1998).

Ethnographic and survey research by other scholars both challenges and confirms the presence and effects of an oppositional cultural framework among blacks (Ainsworth-Darnell & Downey, 1998; Carter, 2002; Cook & Ludwig, 1998; Downey & Ainsworth-Darnell, 2002; Farkas, Lleras, & Maczuga, 2002; Ferguson, 1998a, 1998b, 2001; Mickelson, 2002b; Tyson, 2002). Whether or not black students—and other nonimmigrant minority youths—possess or reject oppositional cultural norms hostile to school success and embrace academic achievement remains a subject of intense debate.

Abstract and Concrete Attitudes

Cultural values are reflected in people's attitudes. In earlier research I demonstrate that attitudes toward education and the future take two forms (Mickelson, 1989, 1990). The first form, abstract attitudes, is based on the dominant American ideology that holds that education is the solution to most individual and social problems. All adolescents value education in the abstract, but these values do not predict differences in academic achievement. Achievement is affected by students' perceptions of the opportunity structure that awaits them. Concrete attitudes embody these perceptions which fluctuate according to the race, ethnicity, and social class forces that shape individuals' and groups' experiences in the American opportunity structure. Concrete, not abstract, attitudes predict achievement among all adolescents. By examining both abstract and concrete attitudes toward education in relation to high school achievement, I show how widespread consensus in educational values can exist across race and class lines while at the same time racial and class differences exist in actual school behavior and achievement.

A number of critics (Ainsworth-Darnell & Downey, 1998; Carter, 2002; Downey & Ainsworth-Darnell, 2002; Ferguson, 1998a, 1998b) incorrectly conflate concepts of abstract and concrete attitudes with Ogbu's (1991) notion of an oppositional cultural framework. Concrete attitudes operationalize a related but earlier construct advanced by Ogbu (1978), namely the job ceiling. In that earlier work he argued that children of castelike minorities (those who were incorporated into American society against their will) face barriers to job success despite possession of educational credentials. Children witness the labor market discrimination faced by their parents, siblings, and community members, and decide that putting effort into education may not pay off. My abstract and concrete attitude constructs test Ogbu's "job ceiling" hypothesis by examining how the effects of truncated opportunities associated with the racially stratified labor market shape minority adolescents' attitudes toward education and how those attitudes influence their achievement.

Stereotype Threat

Steele (Steele, 1997; Steele & Aronson, 1998) examines how the cultural stereotype of black intellectual inferiority affects the academic performance of the most accomplished and most capable black students. He notes that this stereotype is widespread and has become part of every black child's stock of knowledge. Although awareness is not acceptance, Steele believes that the stereotype, nevertheless, impairs academic performance among the brightest and most academically motivated blacks. Using experimental data, he demonstrates that if academically able black students are cued about race before engaging in an intellectual task, their performance will be lower than that of comparable blacks who did not receive such a cue. Given the salience of achievement to high performers, the limited number of blacks in most university classrooms, and the pernicious cultural stereotype of black intellectual inferiority, Steele argues that "stereotype threat" inhibits blacks' academic performance because the most able black students are reluctant to engage fully in intellectual challenges lest they validate the stereotype through trying and failing. Instead their anxiety unconsciously leads them to disengage, and disengagement undermines performance. I return to subjects of stereotype threat, oppositional cultural frameworks, and racial discrimination in education later in the article.


As I have argued elsewhere (Mickelson, 2000), state actors make policy decisions that generate, perpetuate, or ameliorate conditions and structures responsible for racial disparities in education. Walters (2001, p. 35) argues that that throughout the United States, from the establishment of the common school in the 19th century until the present, racial inequality in educational opportunities has been an explicit policy of the state. She notes that not only do elites have greater access to the state, through which they influence policies, but also that certain policies continue to allow elites (primarily middle class whites) to activate their private resources so as to stave off the intended effects of contemporary equity-minded educational reforms. For example, reliance on local property taxes as the main source of school finance and the sanctity of local school district boundaries were critical to establishing inequality within and between communities, and to maintaining stratified schooling after certain educational policies shifted toward greater racial equality of educational opportunity in the 1950s.

According to Walters (2001), the social and political processes that produce racially segregated housing and a racially stratified labor market also generate racially segregated schools and racial inequality in the distribution of school resources. State policies of concentrating public housing for low-income, largely minority families in central cities (as opposed to scattered-site public housing or mixed income communities) affect the racial composition of schools. State policies of establishing or permitting resource inequalities within and between districts exacerbate educational disadvantages facing the minority and poor children who are concentrated in these resource-poor schools. Such policies compound neighborhood disadvantages with school disadvantages (Massey & Denton, 1993; Natriello et al., 1990; Oliver & Shapiro, 1995; Powell et al., 2001; Walters, 2001; Wilson, 1987).

State actors site schools and draw attendance zones that assist or hinder desegregation; they design and operate systems of ability grouping and tracking; they operate schools and school systems so as to permit middle class white parents to activate their race and class privileges. Outside the schools, state actors create and then sustain racially separate suburban residential neighborhoods, and their policies concentrate and isolate poor people of color in underserved public housing. State actors then employ residential proximity as the guiding principle for school attendance zones; they generate reforms—such as high-stakes testing—whose harsh accountability outcomes affect whites, blacks and Latinos disparately (cf. Haney, 2000; Heubert, 2000a, 2000b; McNeil, 2000; Valenzuela, 1998), in part because these state actors often fail to ensure equitable distribution of opportunities to learn the materials covered on the tests. Inequities in funding exist largely because state actors rely on property taxes to fund schools even though this method permits strikingly inequalities in resources, and hence, in opportunities to learn, based on race and class.


1. The policies and practices of school choice illustrate why the state shares responsible for creating and/or ameliorating racial gaps in achievement discussed previously. The state (members of legislatures, school boards, and other governing bodies) creates the enabling legislation, rules, and regulations that permit school choice—in all its manifestations. The literature on choice, race, and achievement is voluminous and contradictory (Fuller & Elmore, 1996; Godwin & Kermerer, 2002; Henig, 1994; Peterson & Hassell, 1998). According to advocates, the evidence shows that parental choice (vouchers, charters, and magnets) leads to greater gains for minority students; critics cite studies showing the opposite (Scott, in press). Aside from the unresolved issue regarding the effects of choice on individual students' outcomes, other important questions remain: What are the effects of choice on school systems? Does choice exacerbate or ameliorate racial inequalities in opportunities to learn within school systems? How does choice affect students whose parents do not actively choose a school or a program?

Choice theorists such as Chubb and Moe (1991) anticipate that choice will create positive consequences for schools and school systems. They hypothesize that good public schools ultimately will survive market forces unleashed by choice. To date, however, there is no consistent evidence that public or private school choice improves the achievement of students in choice schools, nor that it improves educational practice in schools not selected. Evidence from Chile (McEwan & Carnoy, 2000) and New Zealand (Fiske & Ladd, 2000) suggests that nationwide choice systems create disadvantages for students from ethnic minority and poor families. Perhaps market-based school reforms like choice will prove neutral with respect to the race gaps in school outcomes. Preliminary evidence does not sustain this position; rather, early evidence suggests the opposite (Fiske & Ladd, 2000; McEwan & Carnoy, 2000; Scott, in press).


Beyond obvious acts of overt individual racism and de jure institutional segregation, where does the responsibility of schools for racial discrimination begin? The previous review of social science explanations for the race gap suggests the loci of discrimination are in the junctures and transitions that contribute to students' educational career trajectories and the social dynamics that unfold at these points. How do we make sense of the organizational and institutional dynamics taking place at these loci? Lucas's (2001) model of effectively maintained inequality (EMI) regimes provides a useful guide for viewing the options, actions, structures, sequence, and dynamics where race discrimination occurs in education.

Students' own agency and racial identity are shaped by, and interact with, the culture and structure of the school. At each juncture and transition during K–12 education offers opportunities for students to take paths leading to very different educational trajectories. Students take different paths within each trajectory. The policies and practices by which students are sorted and selected for these paths, and the options students and their families perceive are critical to our understanding of how racial discrimination occurs and how its effects cumulate at each transition in students' educational careers.

Oakes (2002) suggests that we envision educational careers as processes taking place at the intersection of two axes. The x-axis consists of community forces and the school environment. The y-axis consists of the students' educational trajectories with their discrete junctures, at which critical transitions are made between and within schools; these are the conditions in which students are embedded and through which they move as they make critical transitions during their educational careers.

Community forces consist of the wealth and health of the neighborhood and the city, the suburb, or the rural area, its demographic composition, the collective educational history and culture of the community, and the nature of the family-school-community relationships. The school environment refers to the racial composition of the school, its material resources (e.g., funding) and human resources (e.g., access to qualified teachers), the academic press and other aspects of the school climate, and the organization of the school's opportunity structure (how the tracking and grouping practices operate).

Students' educational careers are conditioned by racial discrimination in housing and labor markets, and in public housing policies which result in isolated urban communities with high concentrations of low-income, poorly educated, minority families. Even though a majority of black and Hispanic students do not live in inner city ghettos and barrios, the majority of these students lives in urban areas and is increasingly likely to attend segregated minority public schools. At the same time, the suburbanization of middle class Americans, particularly whites—facilitated by tax and transportation policies—results in more privileged students attending newer, better resourced schools with few peers from low-income, poorly educated families.

Similarly, the decisions and choices students, families, and educators make are conditioned by the quality of the teaching staff, the material resources of the school, the racial composition of students and teachers in schools, staff and student attitudes and beliefs about race and ethnicity, the racial composition of ability groups and tracks, the academic press and the school culture, and whether the home-school relationship is inclusive and welcoming or exclusive and rebuffing.

In many respects, the trajectories of students' educational careers are launched with the critical transition from the home to kindergarten (or to preschool). At each subsequent juncture, discrimination can affect the next stage of the trajectory as racial disadvantage or racial privilege cumulate. Is safe, high quality, affordable childcare in a development preschool available in all communities? As the child moves from the home and preschool to kindergarten, is the public school one of high quality? How ready to learn is the child, and how does the school respond to this level of readiness? Which children are assigned to the certified teachers? Lee and Burkam (2002) and Lee et al. (2001) have shown that poorest, least prepared minority children systematically are assigned to the least prepared instructors in the poorest quality schools; this is one reason why the academic effects of developmental preschool, such as Head Start, do not endure throughout elementary school years (although results of High/Scope's Perry Preschool Project [Barnett, 1996, and Schweinhart, Barnes, & Weikart, 1993] suggest otherwise).

Once in elementary school, is the child identified as eligible for gifted or special education? Identification for either of these categories launches students onto paths that often become master statuses. Once a student enters a gifted track, the additional instruction and enriched curricula—not to mention the self-fulfilling dynamics of labels working through teachers' and parents' expectations—actually create a student who knows more and can do more than comparable students not in the gifted track. The opposite tends to be true for those in special education.

The gifted identification process is often racially discriminatory because of what schools do and do not do. Across the country, whites are more likely than blacks to be identified as gifted, and blacks are referred disproportionately to special education. This is true in part because schools permit savvy, privileged parents to deploy their resources on their child's behalf.10 In addition, schools selectively offer parents critical information about private testing options, or inform them that uncertified students still can take a gifted class. The schools continue to use identification procedures that do not capture the multiple forms of intelligence.

The transition to middle school is another critical junctures in students' educational careers. The academic tracks and courses into which students are placed exert a powerful effect on their present and future opportunities to learn. Middle school tracks determine the parameters of the formal curricula to which students are exposed, the stock of official knowledge they are likely to acquire, the peers with whom they interact, the test scores they will make, and the probable trajectory of their remaining education. Although parents may play an active role, the literature identifies how counselors, teachers, administrators have enormous influence over tracking, and how race and class forces influence the placement process. When we find that placements are correlated with race and social class, we should not be surprised.

Race and class forces also contribute to students' construction of their own social identities, including their identities as learners and as members of a particular race, gender, and class. The structure of opportunity in the school (are top tracks virtually all white while the lower ones are disproportionately black?) interacts with students' complex social identities. Among whites, the racial stratification of school structures signals their privilege; among minorities, it may cue oppositional attitudes or stereotype threat that contribute to racial discrimination in education. What and where students learn in a given year is reflected in part by their test scores and grades. A given year's academic performance then becomes part of the conditions for learning the following year. The effects of this dynamic cumulate during middle school careers and launch students onto disparate academic pathways in high school.

The transition from middle school to high school (or out of school) is another critical juncture. Again, the courses and tracks into which students are placed (a process in which counselors, teachers, and administrators continue to be influential) exert a powerful effect on opportunities to learn in high school. At this point in students' educational careers, stratified opportunities to learn within high school become gateways to the stratified outcomes that follow secondary school.


The core conceptual question guiding this article is "When are racial disparities in education the result of racial discrimination?" I have arrived at three answers. The first is a definition I derived from my review of the social science literature: racial discrimination in education arises from actions of individuals as state actors or institutions, attitudes and ideologies, or processes that systematically treat students from different racial/ethnic groups disparately and/or inequitably.

The second answer is that distinguishing racial discrimination from racial disparities is, in fact, an interesting intellectual, legal, and statistical challenge with possibly important policy implications. But in the everyday lives of black and white students (as well as Latino, Asian, Native American, and biracial youth), this distinction probably is less meaningful than social scientists and policy makers might hope. Distinguishing racial discrimination from racial disparities is akin to cleaning the air on one side of a screen door.11 In the end, the dirty air mingles with the clean, and harms respiration; in the case of education, the cumulative and interacting effects of racial disparities and racial discrimination ultimately harm children.

As the social science literature suggests, the racial gap is the result of complex, dynamic processes that cumulate over time. Most likely, racial disparities at T1 trigger racial discrimination at T2, and these phenomena generate further disparities, and so on. For example, because minority students tend to be concentrated in low performing schools, they are more likely than white students to spend larger portions of classroom time on "kill and drill" to raise their own and their school's standardized test scores. The corollary is true as well: They spend less time on broader and deeper curriculum coverage in social studies, science, and the arts, and in activities that develop higher order thinking skills. This is an unintended consequence of the intersection of high-stakes testing and school racial segregation: Minority students are more likely to receive fewer opportunities to develop higher order thinking skills or to be exposed to richer curricula. Imagine the racial differences in learning after a few years of "kill and drill" in lieu of the richer, deeper, and more engaging curriculum that test preparation displaces. Is it important whether this phenomenon is due to racial disparities or discrimination?

The third answer follows from the first two and is perhaps the most important because it attempts a conceptual leap. Recall, as I stated earlier, the central question I seek to answer is, "According to the social science literature, when are racial disparities in education the result of racial discrimination?" I propose the following reformulation of the question: "When are racial disparities in education not due to discrimination?"

To illustrate the value of this reformulation, let us consider two theories that have been advanced to explain the black-white race gap in educational outcomes: stereotype threat and oppositional cultural framework. Both theories make the agency of black students the core of black underperformance. I argue that racial discrimination in education, in fact, structures and conditions the exercise of that agency by black youths.

Under what historical conditions and contemporary circumstances do certain groups of people systematically disqualify themselves from educational achievement? Willis (1977) described very clearly how past and present came together in the working-class white British adolescent males' lived culture, a culture that penetrated the emptiness of a postindustrial society's promise of better economic prospects through schooling. The "lads" exercised their agency in rejecting school, but in doing so they precluded upward mobility based on educational credentials.

Black students make choices if they stifle academic achievement because they care whether their peers feel that doing well in school compromises their black identity. What leads some blacks to construct academic effort, the use of standard English, or earning good grades as threats to their social identity as black people? Individual black students exercise their agency when they silence themselves in an AP classroom or disidentify with academic achievement in response to a race cue before testing. What transforms spotlight anxiety into a fear that, given their full effort to achieve, anything less than a brilliant performance will validate the stereotype of black intellectual inferiority and smear The Race?

The answer is racial discrimination manifested in the collective historical experience of blacks in America since slavery including decades of lynchings, the Tuskegee syphilis experiment, and dual school systems; in contemporary racist stereotypes and representations such as those in The Bell Curve or the Senate's former majority leader's wistful yearning for the Dixiecrat Party's segregationist agenda; in racially discriminatory treatment of people of color by the judicial system, the electoral system, the health care system, the labor market, the housing market, even the supermarket, and—not least—in the isolation of the chilly, white top academic tracks of most high schools and flagship university campuses, an isolation which signals the "otherness" of blacks, Latinos, and Native Americans.

Let me return to the reformulated question: When are racial disparities in education not due to discrimination? Although polemical, this reformulation offers several advantages over the original. First, it reflects the weight of the historical and social scientific evidence and acknowledges that there is no impermeable membrane between schools and the larger society. As observed by Alexander (2001, p. 175), so long as race confers privileges outside schools, it is hard to imagine that it does not do the same within schools. Second, it removes the justification for waiting to ameliorate the race gap until we understand the precise mechanisms by which racial discrimination in education operates. And third, if our question seeks to distinguish when disparities are not the result of discrimination, we are more likely to develop answers that address more of the forces that create and sustain the racial gap in education.

Even if we conclude that discrimination does not cause racial disparities in education, a conclusion I do not support, we cannot and should not conclude that schools have no role in addressing the disparities. Public education is the only institution that can touch the lives of all students in this nation. If public schools do not address educational disparities, then who or what institution will?


1 An earlier version of this article was prepared for the Workshop on Measuring Racial Disparities (and Discrimination) in Elementary and Secondary Education, National Research Council Committee on National Statistics Center for Education, July 1, 2002, Washington, DC. The author is grateful to Valerie Lee, Samuel R. Lucas, and Stephen Samuel Smith for their incisive comments on earlier drafts.

2 A number of scholars and educators point out positive aspects of segregated black educational institutions under Jim Crow (Anderson, 1988; Walker, 1999; Watkins, 2001). It is important, however, both to acknowledge the genuine strengths while avoiding romanticizing segregated black schools. To do otherwise is to substitute an idealized conception of segregated education for the harsh realities of grossly inferior opportunities to learn that characterized racially isolated black schools in the past and today.

3 In the article's review of social science research on racial disparities and discrimination in education, I drew heavily from a 2001 special issue of Sociology of Education. I wish to acknowledge my debt to the many scholars whose work appears in that issue.

4 Gender further complicates the relationship between race, class, and educational disparities.

5 Another aspect of funding inequities is a consequence of the social class homogeneity typically found within elementary school boundaries. Schools typically raise additional money by sending students into their neighborhoods, churches, and extended families to sell candy, fruit, or wrapping paper. Schools use these funds to supplement instructional supplies and to support cocurricular activities. Some middle-class schools are able to raise enormous sums of money, whereas schools in poorer neighborhoods in the same school system raise a fraction of the funds available to more prosperous schools so that advantages accrue to students who already have them (Lucas, 1999). This dynamic is what Merton (1968) called the Matthew Effect after a passage in the New Testament, "For whosoever hath, to him shall be given, and he shall have more abundance: but whosever hath not, from him shall be taken away even that he hath" (Matthew 13:12, New King James Version).

6 The vast literature on teacher expectations indicates the importance of high expectations for academic performance and how race intervenes in teachers' expectations for particular students (cf. Ferguson, 1998b; Jussim & Eccles, 1992; Jussim, Eccles, & Madon, 1996).

7 The literature is inconsistent as to whether blacks are less likely to be in higher level tracks, net of family background, effort, and ability. My findings from Charlotte are comparable to those of Oakes (1993) and Welner (2001) who also found that race affects academic track placement. One likely reason why Oakes, Welner, and I found significant effects of race on placement even after controlling for SES, effort, gender, prior achievement, and so on is that our studies used samples (or populations) from entire school districts. I suspect that the use of large national data sets, which sample only a few pupils from each of thousands of school districts, masks district-level effects that do not become clear until all students and all schools are included in analyses. My analyses consider track placement decisions in relation to their actual educational contexts.

8 According to a New York Times article, former Citigroup securities analyst Jack Grubman, sent an e-mail message suggesting he swapped a favorable stock rating for help (in the form of a $1 million donation from his boss, Sanford Weill) getting his 2-year-old twins into the exclusive 92nd Street Y Nursery School (Goldman, 2003, p. 22). The article explains that New York's top-tier nurseries can be feeders to the "right" kindergartens, and then Trinity and Dalton, and then Harvard. The top-tier nurseries provide superior education from on-staff child psychologists, movement and music specialists, artists in residence, custom-tailored programs and computers, small classes, highly educated teachers and administrators with degrees in education and early childhood education. Moreover, these Baby Ivies offer their young students the "right" social element.

9 Smith and Kulynych (2002) argue that applying the term social capital to a wide array of social and political relationships, processes, and phenomena obscures distinctions crucial to many political traditions. Moreover, this term carries heavy ideological baggage that obscures the causes of, and possible cures of urban decline; facilitates depoliticized political discourse; is inimical to efforts to develop deliberative democratic participation; and impedes efforts to consider social relations in terms other than those of capitalism and the market. Although I acknowledge the analytic and ideological baggage of the term social capital, I continue to use it as a bow to contemporary usage and to locate my work within a certain scholarly literature.

10 I am not proposing that schools ignore or hinder the efforts of parents to use their resources on behalf of their children. Instead, I am critiquing school policies and practices permitting privileged children to benefit from their parents' resources while ignoring the inequities these informal arrangements create vis-à-vis less privileged children.

11 This observation was inspired by Anyon's (1997) priceless metaphor about the futility of school reform without concomitant reforms of the political economies of the communities in which the schools exist.

Teachers College Record Volume 105 Number 6, 2003, p. 1052-1086

http://www.tcrecord.org ID Number: 11548, Date Accessed: 3/9/2005 2:10:06 PM

"Among Freshmen, a Growing Digital Divide" By ELIZABETH F. FARRELL

Computers are getting cheaper and wireless Internet connections are seemingly ubiquitous, but some minority students are still puttering along in the breakdown lane of the information superhighway.

That the so-called "digital divide" is widening between black freshmen and students of other ethnic groups was one of the most surprising findings of the freshman survey this year, says Linda J. Sax, the chief author and an associate professor of education in residence at the University of California at Los Angeles.

Only 76.5 percent of black students reported using a personal computer frequently in 2004, compared with 86.7 percent of white students and 81.4 percent of Hispanic/Latino students. Asian-American students had the highest usage rates, at 91.2 percent.

In 1995 black students and Hispanic students had almost identical levels of frequent computer usage, at about 45 percent for each group. Yet the 2004 numbers indicate that black students are not keeping pace with other minority students, lagging five percentage points behind Hispanic students and 15 percentage points behind Asian-American students.

"There hasn't been much attention devoted to the fact that this is a problem," says Ms. Sax. "People assume the problem is fixing itself because there is more access overall, but the disparities are now greater."

One principle reason for the contrast in access is cost. Computer hardware has gone down in price, but high-speed Internet connections can be prohibitively expensive for poor and working-class families, especially in urban areas.

"Many lower-income communities are not considered primary markets for high-speed connectivity," says Neal Richman, director of UCLA's Center for Neighborhood Knowledge. Consequently, telecommunications companies do not build the infrastructure to support widespread access in those neighborhoods, making it more expensive for people in those areas to get faster access to the Web.

The UCLA survey also found that the differences in computer usage among students of different races were negligible at higher income levels but more pronounced at lower income levels.

Ingrained in College Culture

On campuses where class Web pages, online libraries, and virtual office hours are de rigueur, students' familiarity with computers and the Internet is taken for granted, according to Larry M. Gant, an associate professor in the School of Social Work at the University of Michigan at Ann Arbor.

"No one at a university is going to say to a student, We'll stop using a computer until you're up to speed," says Mr. Gant. "It's really an ingrained part of the college culture and lifestyle, and if you don't know it, you're in a world of trouble."

Students who must make an extra effort to learn computer skills after matriculating are likely to experience long-term academic challenges, according to Mark J. Warschauer, an associate professor of education at the University of California at Irvine.

"In terms of using more sophisticated literacies to produce knowledge, those skills aren't so easy to catch up on," says Mr. Warschauer. "It's more challenging to master the skills required to use technology to find and critique information, and those skills are developed through long-term access to technology and very good education on how to use it."

A lack of familiarity with high-tech tools can also influence the courses students take and the majors they choose. "These decisions have important implications for their future," says Ms. Sax, the study's author.

"These students may be opting out of more lucrative careers because they don't think they have the technological savvy to succeed."



Volume 51, Issue 22, Page A32

The DeTracking Movement

Maureen T. Hallinan

The practice that has come to be known as "tracking" began as a response to the influx of immigrant children into America's schools during the early 20th century. To educate this newly diverse student population, school officials thought it necessary to sort children into different "tracks" based on their ability or past performance. As school reformer Ellwood P. Cubberley stated in 1909, "Our city schools will soon be forced to give up the exceedingly democratic idea that all are equal, and our society devoid of classes . . . and to begin a specialization of educational effort along many lines." The advent of the IQ test and standardized achievement tests accelerated this trend by making the sorting process more apparently scientific.

In the early days of tracking, junior-high and high-school students were assigned to academic, general, or vocational tracks. At one extreme students were being groomed for college, while at the other they prepared to enter trades such as plumbing or secretarial work. By midcentury, a majority of secondary schools used some form of tracking. The practice was especially prevalent in large comprehensive high schools.

Today this extreme form of tracking is relatively rare. In the early 1970s, policymakers and educators, fearing that America was in danger of losing its competitive edge, began insisting that all students have access to a rigorous academic curriculum. States passed minimum graduation standards that required students to take a certain number of courses in the core subjects of English, mathematics, social studies, and science. And the 1983 A Nation at Risk report recommended even tougher standards. In the ensuing two decades, the percentage of students taking four years of each core academic subject increased dramatically.

With the new emphasis on preparing every student for college, tracking in its modern form has come to mean grouping students by ability within subjects. In each subject, students are assigned to advanced, regular, or basic courses depending on their past performance. For instance, students in the advanced track might take pre-calculus as juniors in high school and calculus as seniors, while students in the basic track might go only as far as algebra II or geometry. The creation and growth of Advanced Placement courses is perhaps the best example of how tracking has become an institutionalized practice (see Figure 1).

AP Testing on the Rise (Figure 1)

Advanced Placement (AP) courses represent an increasingly popular form of ability tracking. Since 1980, the number of students sitting for AP exams has increased more than sevenfold. The College Board estimates that just one-third of all students enrolled in AP courses actually sit for the exam.


NOTE: The number of exams given exceeds the number of individual test-takers because test-takers may take exams in more than one subject. Totals include a small percentage of non-U.S. students.

SOURCES: College Board; U.S. Department of Education


The Backlash

Educators broadly support the practice of tracking in its modern form. Teachers find that tracking facilitates instruction by making it easier to gear lessons to the ability level of the whole class. Parents of high-performing students also favor tracking because research shows that students assigned to high-ability groups make greater gains in achievement. However, in studies published in 1986 and 1999, my colleagues and I found that students assigned to low-ability groups score lower on standardized tests than if they had been placed in mixed-ability or high-ability groups.

That finding lies at the core of a backlash against tracking that began in the 1980s. Critics argued that tracking, especially in practice, created greater learning opportunities for high-performing students at the expense of their lower-performing peers. Tracking's opponents alleged that students in lower tracks often had the weakest teachers in a school, an unchallenging curriculum, few academic role models, and low social status. Moreover, they argued, tracking enabled educators to claim that courses were academic or college preparatory in nature when, in fact, the content lacked even the semblance of rigor.

The movement picked up considerable momentum with the 1985 publication of Jeannie Oakes's deeply influential Keeping Track: How Schools Structure Inequality. Oakes provided empirical evidence of the disadvantages endured by students placed in lower tracks. In a similar vein, she revealed that some schools, under orders to desegregate, were promoting internal segregation by disproportionately assigning minority students to lower tracks. Overall, Oakes characterized tracking as an elitist practice that perpetuated the status quo by giving students from privileged families greater access to elite colleges and high-income careers. "Tracking is not in the best interests of most students," Oakes concluded. "It does not appear to be related to either increasing academic achievement or promoting positive attitudes and behaviors. Poor and minority students seem to have suffered most from tracking—and these are the very students on whom so many educational hopes are pinned."

At the height of the detracking movement, organizations including the National Governors Association, the National Education Association, the National Council of Teachers of English, and the California Department of Education came down in favor of detracking. Courts even mandated detracking reforms in some districts as part of efforts to desegregate the schools. For instance, in 1994 the San Jose Unified School District agreed to a consent decree that mandated detracking in grades K–9 and limited tracking in grades 10–12. But the response of school personnel was mixed. While many teachers favored detracking, a large number of parents, politicians, and other teachers resisted. As a result, while the schools became more integrated over time, and remedial classes were eliminated, detracking was never institutionalized as school practice.

Perhaps the most notorious episode in the detracking movement occurred in Massachusetts and California in the early 1990s. Officials in both states mandated that middle schools eliminate or reduce tracking. However, in The Tracking Wars: State Reform Meets School Policy, Brookings Institution scholar Tom Loveless demonstrated how schools, possessing a considerable degree of autonomy, were able to implement the new policy in ways that were consistent with local preferences. While neither state withdrew the mandate, the detracking movement could hardly claim victory.

Minor Inroads

To what extent has the detracking movement influenced the practices of schools and teachers? To date, no national longitudinal survey has provided solid information on the extensiveness of detracking and the manner in which it has been carried out. However, the National Educational Longitudinal Study of 1988 asked a representative sample of teachers whether students were assigned to classes comprising students who were above average, average, below average, or ranging widely in achievement. Their responses suggested that, nationwide, 15 percent of 8th-grade students were heterogeneously grouped for English classes, 14 percent for mathematics, 12 percent for science, and 18 percent for social studies. The remaining large majority of students were in classes with students of roughly the same ability level.

A second study, the Survey of High School Curricular Options, sampled 912 secondary schools in 1993 to obtain information about curriculum differentiation. It reported that 86 percent of high schools offered courses in which students were tracked. The data revealed that 14 percent of 10th graders took math courses in groups in which students' abilities differed widely; the same was true for 28 percent of 10th graders in English.

A 2000 survey of all 174 public high schools in Maryland reported that two-thirds of the high schools used tracking in the four core subject areas, while 13 percent didn't track students in any of the core subjects (the survey's response rate was 79 percent). The remaining schools tracked in some but not all of the core areas. Interestingly, all of the 31 low-poverty, low-minority schools in the study used tracking, compared with only 36 percent of the 25 high-poverty, high-minority schools. In Maryland, at least, detracking is more likely in schools with a greater proportion of disadvantaged students. On the whole, however, the evidence suggests that the detracking movement has not transformed the way students are organized for instruction in America's schools.

What explains the resilience of tracking? For one thing, teaching in a detracked school is far more difficult than in a tracked school. Teachers who have been assigned to detracked classes often report that they must "teach to the middle" or omit some of the curriculum because they don't have time to instruct students at every different level within a class period. Moreover, detracking necessitates reallocating teachers and administrators, modifying the curriculum, and providing professional training. Schools may find these changes prohibitive for budgetary or logistical reasons. Finally, parents of high-ability students tend to prefer rigorous, homogeneous classes, while other parents are unconvinced that heterogeneous classes will benefit their children.

Subtle Influence

Despite widespread opposition to detracking and the failure of many efforts to institutionalize the policy, the detracking movement has had a major impact on school reform. While most schools still assign students to classes based on ability, the movement has heightened public awareness of the often inadequate resources and underwhelming curriculum provided to students in low-track classes.

Furthermore, the detracking movement has challenged widely held beliefs regarding the notion of "ability" and the role it plays in determining the kind of curriculum to which students will be exposed. More educators are now convinced that nearly all students are capable of mastering a challenging curriculum. New academic standards, state tests, and accountability requirements represent an effort to ensure that all students are given access to a rigorous curriculum. Detracking may never become widespread, but changes such as these are expected to improve the achievement of all students, particularly those who are ill served by the negative aspects of tracking as it is currently practiced.

Maureen T. Hallinan is a professor of sociology and director of the Center for Research on Educational Opportunity at the University of Notre Dame.

Education Next : On-line Journal, Hoover Institution (2004)


One Million Homeschooled Students

Kurt J. Bauman (2005)

Question: The U.S. Department of Education estimated in July that about 1.1 million children are home schooled, or about 2 percent of the nation's 53 million children ages 6-18. The number is growing 10 times as fast as the general school-aged population, the department estimated. What is motivating this turn towards home schooling, and what is at stake when more and more of America's students are being home schooled?

Why hasn't the announcement of more than a million home-schooled children in the United States created more interest and excitement? Perhaps it's that homeschool advocacy organizations have spoiled things by claiming much higher numbers for years (Ray 2002, 2000). But I suspect the reason goes a bit deeper: None of us – not educators, not researchers, not the general public – know what to make of it. Our lack of knowledge and our lack of concern may be blinding us to one of the most important forces shaping education today, and it has come time to make sense of it.

Motivations for homeschooling

Current discussions of homeschooling are often premised on misunderstandings. The most glaring is the tendency to associate homeschooling with religious conservativism (e.g., Apple 2000), while. in fact, religion is cited as a primary motivation by only a minority of homeschool families (Princiotta, Bielick, and Chapman, 2004; Bielick, Chandler, and Broughman, 2001; Bauman 2002).[1] More subtle, but much more powerful, is the idea that homeschooling is "different" or out of the mainstream. The problem with this misconception is not so much that it is inaccurate but that, for those who want to ignore or dismiss the phenomenon, it is too comforting.

Statistically, homeschooling families don't look very different from others (Isenberg 2002; Bielick, et al. 2001).[2] While homeschooling parents are somewhat more likely to be well-educated and economically secure, homeschoolers are not at the extremes of education or income. They are more likely to be white than minority, but not overwhelmingly so. Moreover, the line between homeschoolers and regular school children is increasingly hard to draw, as the former are increasingly found within regular schools. A majority of homeschooled children are schooled at home for only one or two years. About one-half of homeschooling families with more than one child send some to regular school. Roughly one homeschooler in five attends school part-time or uses other resources made available in regular schools.

Why are so many seemingly typical families turning to a seemingly radical break with established educational practice? There have been few attempts to really tackle this problem. The immediate motivations often have to do with cultural or ideological differences with school, or specific problems experienced by individual children (Stevens, 2001). But we don't really know the broader forces at work.

Apple (2000) has argued that home schooling is encouraged by an attack on public schools and public institutions by conservative political forces. However, private elementary and secondary schools have not grown in the way homeschooling has – the percentage of children in private school has not changed appreciably since 1970 (U.S. Census Bureau 2005). Homeschooling families themselves do not claim to be motivated by negative perceptions of schools (Bauman 2002). Welner (2002; 2000), in fact, has found that many have deep interest in supporting and improving public schools.[3]

I believe that the meteoric growth of homeschooling is an expression of parents' anxiety about changes in the broader world and the world of education. One parent starts homeschooling just as another might seek a better neighborhood, influence school policies, ask for "individual development plans" for children with mild learning problems, or pay money for tutoring, SAT preparation, and private schools.

While no definitive answer may yet exist to the question of parents' motivation, the phenomenon of homeschooling shows that current pressures on schools have some of their roots in broadly-felt discontent with the status quo. More than any of the other educational "reforms" that have been developed in recent years – be they charter schools, for-profit schools, voucher programs, changes to teacher qualifications or standards/high-stakes testing – the rise of homeschooling shows a true, grass-roots desire for change in our educational system. Underlining this point, the rise of homeschooling is not limited to the United States, but is evident in many countries around the world, including Scandinavia, the United Kingdom, New Zealand, and others (Beck, 2004; New Zealand Ministry of Education, 2004; Vynnycky, 2003; Taylor and Petrie, 2000).

How American education will be affected

Homeschooling exists at the flashpoint of current educational policy. As it continues to grow, it will press against other trends and reshape them. It will provide opposition to the movements for standardized testing and teacher qualifications; it will entangle choice and voucher programs in unanticipated controversy; and it will create multiple challenges for public and private schools. How government and the educational community react to the homeschooling phenomenon will decide the future of American education. There is no other policy variable that comes close to its potential importance.

One reason for its importance is the political strength of homeschooling organizations. Homeschooling families have shown great political clout at local, state, and national levels (Morgan, 2003; Stevens, 2001), and as their numbers grow so will their power. Because they are actively involved in educational and other issues (Collom and Mitchell, 2004), they can be powerful allies or opponents in political battles. Schools and teachers that want the freedom to teach without the constraints imposed by performance standards and high-stakes testing will find potential allies in homeschooling parents. Schools and teachers that want to maintain public funding for schools will find homeschooling parents among those who care most deeply about these issues.

A second reason for the importance of homeschooling on the policy front is the potential growth of schools and institutions that serve homeschoolers. Some of these may be created by homeschoolers themselves (Hill, 2000). However, most are businesses and organizations lured by the expanding homeschool market. Homeschool families typically spend around $300 to $500 on curricular materials each year (Walsh, 2002). Huerta and Gonzales (2004) have discussed how organizations that take advantage of charter laws can be reimbursed up to $3,000 to $5,000 per pupil, or as much as ten times what parents spend on their own (Borja, 2004). This opening could potentially create a market worth many billions of dollars. If organizations are able to obtain large-scale profits from the homeschool charter operational model (a current point of contention), this market has the potential to vastly expand through publicity, advertising, and pressure for legislative accommodations by increasingly wealthy educational providers.

In the face of these powerful political and economic forces enveloping the homeschooling movement, choices must be made by policymakers. The most important of these focus on how homeschoolers will be treated in terms of testing, teacher qualifications, charters, vouchers, and participation in public schools.

Testing and teacher qualifications are the easiest issues to predict. It would be politically infeasible to require homeschooled students to meet all the testing and teacher qualification requirements imposed on others. Currently, homeschoolers have simply been exempted (Home School Legal Defense Association, 2002), and these exemptions are bound to continue.

Allowing homeschoolers to take full advantage of charter and voucher opportunities is a more complex situation. This step could provide the impetus for a boom in the number of schools and students involved. Parents with no current interest in homeschooling could be drawn into this sector by advertising and incentives not available from schools with higher costs. This development would obviously be opposed by advocates for public schools. On the other hand, excluding homeschoolers from charter schools and voucher programs puts a limit on the dreams of those who envision them as a model for a new predominant model of schooling, and separates some of the parents with the strongest desire for individual schooling choice from the movement that claims to speak for them. Homeschooling participation in charters and voucher programs is likely to be a continuing battleground.

Public schools face the choice of accommodating homeschoolers or forcing them to meet their needs for school services, such as specialized courses and school activities, in other ways. While many people object to allowing homeschool students to take what they want from the schools while not participating fully in their overall life, forcing homeschoolers to make their way without assistance from public schools has obvious pitfalls. These include loss of political support for public schools, competition from alternative schools, and pressure to provide charter and voucher opportunities for homeschoolers. In their own best interest, public schools will have to learn to live with homeschoolers.

Within schools, homeschoolers will again be at a flashpoint for policy conflict on testing and standards, graduation requirements, accommodation of students with special needs, curriculum choices, and other issues.[4] Federal, state and local policy makers will all have a role to play. Key decisions will be made about defining homeschooling, specifying the types of exemptions from emerging policy that will be granted them, and setting funding levels for homeschoolers participating in various regular school programs. It promises to be an interesting future, with homeschooling a central part of it all.


[] Research has not yet shown the extent to which religion may play an important unspoken role in establishing homeschooling as a practice. It is likely, however, that the perception that religion is involved comes from the success of religious conservatives in creating highly visible advocacy organizations (Stevens, 2001).

[2] Homeschooling families do stand out in one respect. Homeschoolers are more likely than children in regular school to be in two-parent families with only one spouse working (Isenberg, 2002; Bauman, 2002). This is a large population, and despite assumptions, not declining. Moreover, there are many homeschooling families that do not fit this profile, and as resources for homeschoolers grow, they may come to be found in families of all types.

[3] Several possible motivations have been offered by Stevens (2001), including the role of homeschooling leaders and thinkers, the growth of networks of supportive homeschool families, the increasing societal emphasis on self-actualization as a goal for raising children, and the search for a meaningful role for women who might otherwise be, as some described it, "just a housewife." Each of these ideas has its merits. However, none of these puts enough emphasis on what homeschooling tells us about education itself.

[4] Some examples of additional policy issues are as follows: Funding provided to public schools for accommodating homeschoolers will largely determine whether local schools are willing and able to provide services. Definitional problems will abound. For example, schools in which they participate will be under pressure to define poorly performing students as homeschoolers, and high-achievers as regular


Apple, M. (2000). The cultural politics of home schooling." Peabody Journal of Education. 75(1&2), 256-271.

Bauman, K. (2002). Home schooling in the United States: Trends and characteristics. Education Policy Analysis Archives, 10(26). Available: http://epaa.asu.edu/epaa/v10n26.html

Beck, C.W. (2002). Home schooling and future education in Norway. European Education, 34(2), 26-36.

Bielick, S., Chandler, K., and Broughman, S.P. (2001). Homeschooling in the United States: 1999. Washington, DC: National Center for Education Statistics.

Borja, R.R. (2004, December 8). New player in online school market pursues profits. Education Week, Vol. 24, Issue 15, p. 8 .

Collom, E., and Mitchell, D.E. (Forthcoming). Home schooling as a social movement: Identifying the determinants of homeschoolers' perceptions." Sociological Spectrum.

Hill, P.T. (2000). Home schooling and the future of public education. Peabody Journal of Education, 75(1&2), 20-31.

Home School Legal Defense Association. (2002). Federal prohibition of state assessments on homeschool students. Purcellville, VA: Home School Legal Defense Association.

Huerta, L.A., and Gonzalez. M.. (2004). Cyber and home school charter schools: How states are defining new forms of public schooling. New York: National Center for the Study of Privatization in Education, Teachers College, Columbia University.

Isenberg, E. (2002). Home-Schooling: School choice and women's time use. New York: National Center for the Study of Privatization in Education, Teacher's College, Columbia University.

Morgan, R. (2003). A growing force: In fight for federal student aid, home-school lobby has powerful friends. The Chronicle of Higher Education, 49(19), A19.

New Zealand Ministry of Education. (2004). Homeschooling in 2003. Retrieved January 3, 2005 from: http://www.minedu.govt.nz/index.cfm?layout=index&indexid=6852&indexparentid=5611

Princiotta, D., Bielick, S., and Chapman, C. (2004). 1.1 million homeschooled students in the United States in 2003. Washington, D.C.: National Center for Education Statistics.

Ray, B.D. (2000). Homeschooling teaching strategies. Washington, DC: ERIC Clearinghouse on Teaching and Teacher Education.

Ray, B.D. (2002). Facts on home schooling. Salem, OR: National Home Education Research Institute.

Stevens, M.L. (2001). Kingdom of children: Culture and controversy in the home-schooling movement. Princeton, NJ: Princeton University Press.

Taylor, L.A., and Petrie, A.J. (2000). Home education regulations in Europe and recent U.K. research. Peabody Journal of Education, 75(1&2), 49-70.

U.S. Census Bureau. 2005. School enrollment: Historical tables. Washington, DC: U.S. Census Bureau.

Vynnycky, C.M. (2003). Home-based and 'out-of-school' education for the compulsory years in Sweden: Signs of reform? Stockholm, Sweden: Institute of International Education, Stockholm University.

Walsh, M. (2002, June 5). Home school enrollment surge fuels 'cottage' industry. Education Week, Vol 21, Issue 39, p. 8.

Welner, K.M. (2000). Private endeavors, public vision: Homeschoolers who support public schools. Paper presented at the annual meeting of the American Educational Research Association, New Orleans, LA.

Welner, K.M. (2002). Exploring the democratic tensions within parents' decisions to homeschool. New York: National Center for the Study of Privatization in Education, Teachers College, Columbia University.

Teachers College Record, Date Published: February 16, 2005

http://www.tcrecord.org ID Number: 11756, Date Accessed: 7/12/2005 10:55:41 AM

 Three Narratives of Parent-Educator Relationships:Toward Counselor Repertoires for Bridging the Urban Parent-School Divide

Hollyce C. Giles Brooklyn College City University of New York.



Drawing on the concept of a narrative, this article describes three basic patterns underlying the roles and relationships between parents and educators in urban schools: the deficit, in loco parentis, and relational narratives. The author offers evidence for the narratives from the research literature and from her interviews and participant observation as a counselor, consultant, and researcher in urban school reform initiatives. The article concludes by identifying repertoires that counselors can use to foster relationships between parents and educators that enhance the academic achievement and social and emotional development of students.

An an op-ed piece written in The New York Times, Anika Rahman, a New York lawyer of Bangladeshi origin, described her thoughts in the wake of anti- Arab sentiment in the days after the attacks on the World Trade Center, I am so used to thinking about myself as a New Yorker that it took me a few days to begin to see myself as a stranger might: a Muslim woman, an outsider, perhaps an enemy of the city. Before last week, I had thought of myself as a lawyer, a feminist, a sister, a friend, a woman on the street. Now I begin to see myself as a brown woman who bears a vague resemblance to the images of terrorists we see on television and in the newspapers. . . . I feel myself losing the power to define myself. . . . (Rahman, 2001, p. A27)

Here, in a time of crisis and intense anxiety in New York City, Ms. Rahman wrote of the power of other's expectations over her own thinking, especially about herself. The pervasive stereotypic images of Arabs in the media challenged her own sense of her identity and, ultimately, her very power to define herself. Images from the media, as well as social cues that she received during everyday interactions, framed expectations about her identity, her actions, and her thoughts.

In this article, I want to suggest that in the social arena of relations in urban school reform initiatives in economically poor and working-class communities, a process similar to what Rahman experienced occurs between professional educators and parents. Whereas Rahman's sense of identity was reframed by the events following 9/11, so too, I suggest, are parents' identities reframed when they enter the educational arena to try to help to improve their children's schools. That is, a similar process occurs for parents in which social cues bear down upon, and potentially reframe, parents' sense of who they are and what their role ought to be as parents. In many cases, they receive the message that they may be called upon to help their children, but only in a limited, predefined capacity. This capacity is not defined by the parents themselves, but rather is defined for them by educators. These expectations

for urban, inner-city parents about their behavior and where they fit into the school picture are transmitted via social narratives and roles. The cues for

these roles may be subtle or direct, but their cumulative effect conveys powerful expectations to parents that potentially undercut their very notions about who they are, their capacity for imagining better schools for their children, and, hence, their ability to effectively transform those schools. The purpose of this article is to offer school counselors and other educators a conceptual framework for discerning the nature and quality of their relationships with parents in urban schools. To describe basic patterns of roles and relationships between educators and parents, the thrust of the article will be to outline three "narratives" of parent-educator relationships: the deficit narrative, the in loco parentis narrative, and the relational narrative. The first two narratives offer more limiting and passive roles for parents, whereas the third narrative, the relational narrative, contains more active, dynamic roles for them. Evidence for all three narratives comes from both the research literature and my participant observation as a counselor, consultant, and researcher in several urban school reform initiatives.

Three Narratives of Parent- Educator Relationships:Toward

Counselor Repertoires for Bridging the Urban Parent-School Divide

After discussing the three parent-educator narratives, the article will identify

repertoires, or sets of practices, that counselors can develop to change the narrative of relationships between parents and educators in their school, to a narrative that better supports the academic achievement and personal development of all of their students.

I also use the narratives as a lens through which to examine recent recommendations for school counselor approaches to use to develop relationships between parents and schools (Bemak & Cornely, 2002), and the parents' role in the conceptual framework of the Transforming School Counseling Initiative (Education Trust, 2003). My aim is that by drawing upon these narratives, counselors can determine the extent to which they and other educators may be participating in narratives of relationships with parents that limit and hence undermine theirs and the parents' contribution to the education of the children or youth in their school.


A substantial body of research documents the contribution of strong, trusting relationships between professional educators and parents to the success of initiatives to improve urban schools and increase student achievement (Bryk & Schneider, 2002;

Henderson & Mapp, 2002; Hoover-Dempsey & Sandler, 1997). Studies also show that differences in race and social class between parents and educators, and the differential power of their institutional roles, pose significant barriers to developing such relationships (Abrams & Gibbs, 2002; Giles, 2002; Gold, Rhodes, Brown, Lytle, & Waff, 2001; Horvat, Weininger, & Lareau, 2002; Lawson, 2003; Smrekar & Cohen-Vogel, 2001). A recent group of studies, however, has found that although race, class, and power differences between parents and educators clearly have a strong impact on relationships, the local culture created by educators and parents in a school can minimize the potentially negative impact of these differences. By working to transform the traditional, bureaucratic culture typically found in urban schools into a more relational culture, educators and parents in several reform initiatives, often in collaboration with community organizing groups, have developed close and fruitful relationships with each other, across differences of race and social class (Gold, Simon, & Brown, 2002; Lewis & Forman, 2002; Shirley, 1997).

To identify and explore these different cultures and patterns of relationships between parents and educators, the work of scholars recently has converged upon the concept of roles. In describing a social process similar to that reflected in Rahman's (2001) experience after 9/11, researchers note that parents' perception of the appropriate role for them in a particular school appears to be a function of the way the school treats them. Roles, defined as the expectations that groups have for the behavior of particular members (Hoover-Dempsey & Sandler, 1997), are informal and often implicit, evolve over time in the context of an organization, and influence individuals' ideas about how they should act and the nature of their relationships with people in other roles (Smrekar & Cohen-Vogel, 2001). In their observations of the daily life of urban schools, scholars have identified a variety of roles, or sets of expectations,

that have emerged for parents—for example, client, consumer, collaborator (Gold et al., 2001; Lewis & Forman, 2002), comrades in struggle (Lewis & Forman), welfare parent, parent-in-recovery, bureaucrat, citizen (Giles, 2001), monitor, helper, advocate, decision-maker (Abrams & Gibbs, 2002), supporter, and fund-raiser (Smrekar &

Cohen-Vogel). Each is shaped through a gradual social process in one's everyday interactions with educators in schools.

In this article, I will expand upon the concept of roles and invoke the concept of narrative to describe different logics of relationships between parents and educators in urban schools. A narrative has the advantage of pointing to distinctive ways of "ordering experience," or "of constructing reality" (Bruner, 1986, p. 11), which underlie particular parent- school relationships, as opposed to simply identifying clusters of roles. In Kathleen Casey's (1995) review of narrative research in education, she identified one strand of narratives as falling within what Gramsci (1980) called the "collective subjective," in which "a distinctive definition of the self and its relationship to others is generated" (Casey, p. 222). In this article, excerpts from individual narratives by parents and educators, along with data from observations of schools, will be offered as evidence for three larger "meta-narratives," or collective subjectives, describing patterns of relationships between parents and educators in schools. As such, the larger narrative here is considered to be a basic story or plot that captures the essential logic underlying actors' ways of acting and interacting in a system or organization. Although the culture of a school typically is characterized by one dominant narrative between parents and educators, pockets of "counternarratives" or alternative narratives may be reflected in the language and behavior of some teachers and parents at the school.

A substantial body of research documents the contribution of strong, trusting relationships between professional educators and parents to the success of initiatives to improve urban schools and increase student achievement. The names of individuals and locations in my consulting and research are pseudonyms to preserve the anonymity of participants. In the following sections, the three narratives— deficit, in loco parentis, and relational—will be described, with examples of each from the research

literature and from my own work as a counselor, consultant, and researcher in urban schools involved in reform initiatives.


In this narrative, educators consider working-class and low-income parents to be deprived, deviant, or "at-risk" and have low expectations for their involvement in their children's education (Laosa, 1983; Lawson, 2003; Swadener, 1995). School professionals hold low expectations for educational achievement or personal growth and development for students and for their parents. Educators view the perceived

pathologies and problems of families as undermining their ability as educators to successfully teach their children.

Historical evidence of a deficit narrative goes back to the origins of the role of the school counselor. William Cutler (2000) wrote, "Between 1905 and 1930, visiting teachers, vocational counselors, and school nurses joined the professional team. It was up to them to save the American family, by dispelling maternal ignorance about the nature of childhood and the principles of homemaking" (p. 9). Cutler added that many of those teachers and mental health professionals "disdained the people they professed to be helping, failing to distinguish between the real and imagined deficiencies of African-American, immigrant, and working-class parents and children" (p. 10).

Abundant evidence can be found for a deficit narrative in contemporary educational contexts. Describing their conversations with the principal and other school staff as they prepared to set up interviews with parents in an elementary school in northern California, Smrekar and Cohen-Vogel (2001) wrote, These officials suggested that most of the parents in the school were lazy, irresponsible, and apathetic when it came to school involvement and that these attitudes were inextricably linked to the low performance of their children. . . . School officials warned that it was unsafe and unwise to enter the school neighborhood and conduct interviews at parents' homes. Teachers warned that we would be lucky to get one third of the initially contacted parents to participate. (p. 85) The authors went on to note that, contrary to the expectations of the school staff, all but one of the 15 parents they contacted were willing to participate in their interviews, and that parents "welcomed [them] warmly and politely into all the homes" and most "responded that, if asked, they would find ways to increase their involvement at home and at school" (Smrekar & Cohen-Vogel, p. 85). One example of the deficit narrative that surfaces over and over again in educators' descriptions of their efforts to engage parents can be found in variations of the "we even offered them food and they didn't come" script. In Lawson's (2003) ethnographic study of teachers' and parents' perceptions of parent involvement, he described a representative example of this script in one of his interviews with a teacher. The teacher said, Unfortunately, we're frustrated because we're not seeing parents making that commitment. And, I think it's gotten to the point where the staff feels that we're bribing the parents to come in. "We're serving dinner." "If we serve food, they'll come." "If we give out prizes, then they'll come." (Lawson, p. 110) Lawson observed that teachers view these "bribery tactics as a signal of parental deficits" (p. 110). Referring to such "bribery tactics," another teacher in the same study concluded, "It's the only way that we can get them in here to show them what's good for them" (p. 120). Lawson's analysis of these and other teacher narratives in his study led him to conclude that in that school, teachers' theory of action (a concept similar to that of "narrative" as defined in this article) for parental change was "based on defining and then reluctantly meeting the needs of parents" (p. 121).

Another example of a deficit-based role became evident during a training activity for a community initiative to reform several urban schools in lowincome neighborhoods. A Latino father, José, told me of his experience when he approached the principal of his daughter's school. In an angry, indignant tone, José told me, I went to the principal to tell her that a group of us parents wanted to talk with her about some ideas about how to make the school better. She told me, "Look, I'll give you letters for welfare." I couldn't believe it! I told her that I had a job, I wasn't there for a handout. The principal projected an image of these parents, who perceived themselves as potential allies in improving the school, as dependent, needy, and trying to "work the system" to meet their welfare requirements. I labeled this role the welfare parent. Other roles identified in the research literature that may be located within the deficit narrative are those

In schools with families from mixed social classes, middle-class parents often contribute to strengthening the deficit narrative, reinforcing perceptions of working-class and poor parents as deficient. of parent-in-recovery (Giles, 2001) and client (Gold et al., 2001; Lewis & Forman, 2002). In schools with families from mixed social classes, middle-class parents often contribute to strengthening the deficit narrative, reinforcing perceptions of working-class and poor parents as deficient. Abrams and Gibbs (2002) gave an example of this dynamic in the narrative they shared from a white, middleclass

parent who was talking about parents' roles in the parent-teacher association (PTA) at school, If none of the White parents showed up, there just wouldn't be any fundraising, there would be no activities, there would be nothing. You can call it cultural, but I think for the most part White parents are fairly middle- to uppermiddle- class. They're used to being disciplined, being on time, sticking to the subject, and getting tasks done. I don't think that this is shared across cultures. (p. 398) This parent relied on a description of parents from other social classes as being deficient in the skills needed to run a productive meeting to explain the dominance of White, middle-class parents in the

PTA. As such, the deficit-based language and behaviors of middle-class educators and middle-class parents toward working-class and poor parents of children in a school can entrench the deficit narrative ever more firmly in the school's culture. While in this example the dominant parents are White, the dynamic also occurs with parents from a variety of social identity groups (e.g., different races, ages, and immigration statuses) identifying some "other" group of parents as deficient by comparison to themselves (R. Domanico, personal communication, February 2004).


The literal translation of the Latin phrase in loco parentis is "in the place of a parent," and it came into use in the United States in the late 1800s in court cases debating educators' right to discipline students in the place, or absence, of their parents. In American courts, the concept of educators assuming parents' rights and responsibilities toward their children has expanded to include questions of search and seizure and reasonable rules the school can set for students, such as whether they can eat lunch offcampus or their appropriate hair length (Zirkel & Reichner, 1986). In a related but broader sense, and in the meaning drawn upon in this article, in loco parentis refers to educators' beliefs and practices that assume that it is their responsibility to provide an academic, and often social and emotional, education in the place of students' parents, that is, with very limited or no participation by parents. This narrative shares the assumption of the deficit narrative that working-class and poor parents generally are not capable of contributing in significant positive ways to their children's education and development. However, the in loco parentis narrative differs from the deficit narrative in that it assumes that educators will be able to compensate for parents' deficits themselves, to help students achieve to high levels. Lewis and Forman (2002) captured the essence of this narrative in their observation, "Many urban schools have taken the posture of educating students in spite of their families, rather than in concert with them" (p. 82). Another way of characterizing the in loco parentis narrative is that educators have high expectations for students, but limited or low expectations for their parents.

Approaches to working with parents generated from this narrative tend to assume that educators are "the providers of knowledge and opportunity, and parents [are] the ‘receivers,'" and parents tend to feel "even in the context of parent-attracting policies and gimmicks, that their input and participation is not valued" (Smrekar & Cohen-Vogel, 2001, p. 97). Though parents may be called upon to play various roles that involve them in their children's education, such as those of supporter, fund-raiser, and helper, their help is sought for the priorities and issues identified and shaped by educators. Parents also may be called to play the role of consumer in this narrative,

with schools working to keep them "happy and at a distance" (Lewis & Forman, 2002, p. 82). Evidence of this narrative can be found in several recent reform initiatives, which exhort counselors and other educators to raise their expectations for the potential of their working-class and low-income students, and to work to narrow the achievement

gap among students of different classes and races, yet they do not articulate a significant role for parents in accomplishing these objectives. For example, in the description of the "scope of work" for counselors in the Transforming School Counseling

Initiative, parents are not mentioned in the "Leadership," "Advocacy," or "Teaming and

Collaboration" areas of work but are identified as recipients of resources under the "Counseling and Coordination" area (Education Trust, 2003). Though the role of parents may be evolving given the newness of the initiative, it would appear from the written materials that the narrative of relationships between parents and educators currently guiding the initiative is in loco parentis. Another example of in loco parentis can be found in the training for educators offered by several school districts around the country based on a book intended to help middle-class educators effectively teach economically poor children. Payne (1998) wrote that given that poverty is directly related to existing social relationships, those who want to escape it must sacrifice poverty-culture relationships, at least for awhile. This recommendation might be understood to mean that in order to develop middle- class values, and ways of thinking and acting, students must distance themselves from their families and communities. This kind of thinking about relationships between educators and parents suggests

an in loco parentis narrative. The danger of such thinking lies in the damage that it risks inflicting on students' relationships with their families and communities, as well as in further alienating parents from the process of educating their children.

An entirely different kind of dynamic occurs in contexts where educators and parents trust and respect each other and have similar values and similar cultures. In this kind of context, the teacher acting in the place of the parent is likely to contribute

positively to students' development and academic achievement. Immigrant parents from Mexico, Central America, and the Caribbean islands often tell of a more fluid relationship between home and school in which they expect the teacher to act in their place. A Mexican mother interviewed in Smrekar and Cohen-Vogel's (2001) study observed, I believe that school is better in Mexico. . . . In Mexico if the kids don't do their homework, the teachers can punish them, so the kids won't be disrespectful. . . . There the teachers are like parents and they can discipline the kids, because it's for their own good. The teacher is like the second parent. School is where their behavior is formed apart from the home. (pp. 89–90)

African-Americans who attended segregated schools in the South before Brown v. Board of Education described a similar dynamic (hooks, 1994). Unfortunately, educators in most urban schools do not have this kind of relationship of trust and respect with the parents in their community, and an in loco parentis narrative risks further alienating and distancing parents from the school and from their children.


In the third narrative, the relational narrative, educators work with parents, rather than for them. The Iron Rule, a principle espoused by a community organizing group involved in urban school reform, exemplifies this narrative: Never do for another person

what he can do for himself (Cortes, 1996). Educators expect parents to bring knowledge and strengths to improving the school, and parents expect educators to do the same. They hold each other mutually responsible for their parts in educating students. They build strong, trusting relationships, often across differences of race and class, and together identify and address issues that interfere with the education of students in their school. In Lewis and Forman's (2002) study, they described an elementary school, Metro, in which a relational narrative appeared to guide interactions

between middle-class educators and low-income parents. A description of the parent conferences at the school gives a sense of the expectations for relationships between parents and educators: Parent conferences were not viewed as a time for teachers to report to parents about a child's academic progress, but as a way for the important adults in a child's life to share not only academic information, but also social and emotional information. Expert status was understood not as the sole purview of school

staff but as something shared with and encouraged in parents. (Lewis & Forman, pp. 77–78)

The authors went on to note: Parents were rarely called upon to be fundraisers,

bakers, or room moms. Instead, they were involved as members of a community, as

educational collaborators with important information about their children, and as comrades in struggles related to keeping the school functioning. (p. 78)

Parents' role as "comrades in struggles" with educators, taking action together to address the many issues that typically face urban schools in lowincome neighborhoods, is a central component of the relational narrative. Lewis and Forman (2002) concluded that Metro was able to develop these kinds of relationships because of the culture established by the school's principal and teachers, characterized by "no closed doors" of classrooms or offices to other educators or to parents, an openness of conflict, a valuing of the ideas and abilities of people in every role in the school, and frequent spaces for conversations among and between educators and parents, for example a weekly parent breakfast to solicit community input on different issues. Another

important finding of this study, noted by other studies as well, is that educators are more likely to develop open, collaborative relationships with parents if they themselves feel respected and powerful in their school context (Bryk & Schneider, 2002).

A narrative that envisions middle-class educators and working-class and low-income parents as partners in struggles to improve schools represents a major shift in the roles and relationships typical in urban schools (Lopez, 2003). A key moment or

"tipping point" of change in one school's narrative of parent-educator relationships illustrates one way that such change may come about. The story emerged in my interviews with the principal and assistant principal of an elementary school in a working- class, low-income community in a city in the Southwest about their efforts to improve the quality of education in the school (Giles, 2001). They told the story of how a group of parents in their school, with the coaching of the education coordinator of a local community organizing group, had persuaded the school district to get rid of an infestation of rats in the school in a period of 2 weeks, something that the administrators had tried to do without success for several years. The assistant principal described sharing the news of the parents' victory with teachers, The teachers weren't involved [in the effort to get rid of the rats], and the teachers wondered, "What's going on? Why are all these parents here so early? Are we in trouble? What did we do? Oh my gosh, it's a riot." And the next day at the faculty meeting, we told them and we shared the story with them, and they were clapping and they got all excited. It was

an example of these parents advocating for their kids, maybe not in the traditional educational way that we expect, but they are. (Giles, p. 142)

The administrators were intentional about communicating to the teachers that the parents could be powerful allies. As the assistant principal explained, These are the examples that we bring to the teachers. Making sure that the teachers know that these things are happening because they need to understand that these parents have a lot of power. And that we need to be working with them and inviting them in, in order that they can help us because there are things that we cannot do. (Giles, p. 142)

In this example of cultural change, the administrators presented images to teachers of parents as people who can be trusted and who have power that they can use to improve the school. The administrators had begun to create a culture that was open enough that they would let the parents know that there were rats in the school in the first place. In marked contrast, the norm in many struggling urban schools is to withhold negative information about the school from parents (Mediratta, Fruchter, &

Lewis, 2002).

Here, it is important to emphasize that any narrative of relationships between parents and educators emerges out of the particular power dynamics of a school. Given that the usual power arrangements in urban public schools exclude parents from knowledge about the school's functioning, and from agenda- setting and important decision-making, a first step in creating more collaborative relationships between educators and parents often has involved community groups joining with parents and community residents, and in some cases educators, to pressure schools to be more responsive to parents' concerns and priorities (Lopez, 2003). It is in this context of power relations that school counselors make decisions about the norms of relationships

among educators, parents, and community members that they will work to create.


As tools for counselors and other educators to use to change the narratives of relationships in schools, this section describes repertoires, or sets of practices, they can draw upon to build more fruitful relationships among the adults in the school community. As noted earlier, the three narratives outlined in this article are intended as a lens through which counselors can look to discern the nature and quality of the relationships between parents and educators at their schools. However, before looking outward, at the school, it is critical for a counselor to begin by looking inward to consider which narrative is most prominent in his or her thinking about relationships with parents. Once counselors have some clarity about their own internal narratives, they can listen to the language and observe the relationships of educators and parents in their everyday interactions at the school to discern which narrative seems to be predominant.

Counselors can consider the following questions: What language do the principal and teachers use when they talk about parents? Does their language reflect high or low expectations? What kinds of implicit and explicit cues do educators give to parents

about their "proper" role in the school? Do they expect parents to be passive recipients of knowledge from them, as the experts? Or, do they expect parents to help to define the school's priorities and issues it needs to address to improve? What kinds of relationships do teachers have with each other? Are their classrooms open to each other? Are their classrooms open to parents? Are there times and places for conversations among teachers about their hopes and concerns for the school? Once counselors have a sense for the narrative of relationships that is most evident at their school, and

A narrative that envisions middleclass educators and working-class and low-income parents as partners in struggles to improve schools represents a major shift in the roles and relationships typical in urban schools. for the narrative driving their own relations with parents, they can decide whether and how they want to try to work toward changing the dominant narrative to a narrative that is more conducive to improving students' education. Changing a narrative takes time, persistence, and the collaboration of many people inside and outside of the school. However, counselors, by virtue of their role as liaison among parents, the community, and the school, and their training in listening skills and group and organizational dynamics, are in an excellent position to offer leadership in initiating such systemic change and to play the role of "midwife" to deepen and sustain it. One of the most basic and important steps to take toward creating a relational narrative is to develop space where parents and educators can share their hopes and concerns with each other about the school and identify issues that they would like to take action on together. These can be individual conversations that the counselor has with parents, or small groups of parents or educators, facilitated by the counselor or others identified as educational leaders in the school. In facilitating such conversations, it is important for the counselor to shed the role of expert, and simply be a good listener, as well as to share his or her own hopes and concerns for the school. Through these conversations, the counselor and others working with him or her can discover leaders among parents and other educators who can join as "comrades in struggles" to improve the school.

The counselor also can develop a collaborative relationship with a community organization that has strong ties to parents and others in the neighborhood, which will help him or her to reach out and initiate conversations and relationships with parents, and to build their capacity to take action to improve their children's education. Given counselors' large caseloads and multiple responsibilities, a community organization with knowledge of how to engage parents and train them in leadership skills can be a

crucial partner. Counselors can learn whether there is such a group in their community by contacting the Cross Cities Campaign for Urban School Reform at http://www.crosscity.org or the Institute for Education and Social Policy at http://www.nyu. edu/iesp.

To develop a deeper understanding of how other schools have developed a more relational culture between educators and parents of different social classes, counselors can read stories of reform initiatives in other urban schools. Good sources include books and reports by Gold et al. (2002), Hirota and Jacobs (2003), Mediratta et al. (2002), and Shirley (1997). In the school counseling literature, Bemak and Cornely (2002) recently proposed a model for ways that counselors can develop links between families and schools. Several of the authors' proposals reflect a relational narrative, particularly the recommendations for building bridges between schools and families

"so that education becomes a two-way street" (p. 325), "creating environments that welcome families," and "encouraging family advocacy programs" (p. 327). However, some of the language in their recommendations, including using the term "marginalized

families" to describe families whom they perceive to be "difficult to reach," suggests a lingering deficit narrative in their thinking. Though the authors noted that they did not intend to use the term pejoratively, the term highlights the deficits of some families, as compared to other families whom they labeled as "integrated families," those who

"feel comfortable at schools, and regularly participate in PTA and booster club activities" (Bemak & Cornely, p. 323). Affixing such labels to differentiate groups of parents, even if it they are only used "in-house," masks the strengths and potential contributions of some families and risks marginalizing them further.

It is important to note that working toward a more relational narrative in a school involves altering the dynamics of power among the adults in the school community and, therefore, is likely to encounter some resistance (Gold et al., 2001). As such, it will be important for the counselor to develop relationships with powerful allies inside and outside the school. The most important ally inside the school is likely to be the principal, as the person with the most formal power, though having the support of other educators and parents who are formal and informal leaders in the school is also essential.

Outside the school, a community group with experience in school reform can be a critical ally in creating strategies for overcoming educators' resistance to more collaborative relationships (Gold et al.). The likelihood that some parents will not have the time or the desire to collaborate with other parents and educators to improve their children's education should not deter a relational approach with other parents; a school with even 10% of its parents engaged as leaders is of great value in enhancing the

quality of education.

It will be important for the counselor to locate and coordinate training for educators and parents to take on their new roles in a relational narrative. As observed by Gold et al. (2001) regarding the Children Achieving reform initiative in Philadelphia,

part of the reason the reform did not succeed as fully as was hoped is that the district did not offer the professional development that "school principals and teachers needed to work collaboratively with parents and community members, including how to work through the inevitable tensions and conflict of changing roles and expectations" (p. 47). Outside the school, a community group with experience in school reform can be a critical ally in creating strategies for overcoming educators' resistance to more collaborative relationships.


The three narratives of parent-educator relationships described in this article—deficit, in loco parentis, and relational—offer a framework that can be used to observe and reflect upon the nature and quality of relationships between parents and educators in urban schools. Two of the narratives, deficit and in loco parentis, place parents in more limited and passive roles, whereas the relational narrative offers opportunities for both parents and educators to take on more active roles in which they can bring their knowledge and strengths to improving students' academic achievement and social and emotional development. Finally, the article identifies repertoires, or sets of practices, that counselors can use to "midwife" relationships among the adults in the school community that are more likely to bear fruit in students' intellectual and social lives. The repertoires needed for counselors and other educators to develop a relational narrative in their school require significant energy and commitment. However, it is helpful to keep in mind that change occurs gradually, and that the process of developing closer relationships among and between parents and educators who have been isolated and distant from each other can be a deeply gratifying, poignant experience that ultimately will benefit the children and youth in their care.


Abrams, L. S., & Gibbs, J.T. (2002). Disrupting the logic of homeschool relations: Parent involvement strategies and practices of inclusion and exclusion. Urban Education, 37(3), 384–407.

Bemak, F., & Cornely, L. (2002).The SAFI model as a critical link between marginalized families and schools: A literature review and strategies for school counselors. Journal of

Counseling and Development, 80(3), 322–331.

Bruner, J. (1986). Actual minds, possible worlds. Cambridge, MA: Harvard University Press.

Bryk, A. S., & Schneider, B. (2002). Trust in schools: A core resource for improvement. New York: Russell Sage Foundation.

Casey, K. (1995).The new narrative research in education. In M.Apple (Ed.), Review of research in education, 21 (pp. 211–253).Washington, DC: American Educational

Research Association.

Cortes, E. (1996). Organizing communities and constituencies for change. In S. L. Kagan & N. E. Cohen (Eds.), Reinventing early care and education: A vision for a quality system (pp. 247–266). San Francisco: Jossey-Bass.

Cutler,W. (2000). Parents and schools: The 150-year struggle for control in American education. Chicago: The University of Chicago Press.

Education Trust. (2003). Scope of work: Transforming School Counseling Initiative. Retrieved January 5, 2004, from http://www2.edtrust.org/edtrust/Transforming+


Giles, H. C. (1998). ERIC Digest: Parent engagement as a school reform strategy. New York: ERIC Clearinghouse on Urban Education.

Giles, H. C. (2001). A word in hand: The scripted labeling of parents by schools. In G. M. Hudak & P. Kihn (Eds.), Labeling: Politics & pedagogy (pp. 130–159). London:


Giles, H. C. (2002).Transforming the deficit narrative: Race, class, and social capital in parent-school relations. In C. Korn & A. Bursztyn (Eds.), Rethinking multicultural education (pp. 127–146).Westport, CT: Bergin & Garvey.

Gold, E., Rhodes, A., Brown, S., Lytle, S., & Waff,D. (2001). Clients, consumers, or collaborators? Parents and their roles in school reform during Children Achieving, 1995-2000. Philadelphia: Consortium for Policy Research in Education.

Gold, E., Simon, E., & Brown, C. (2002). Strong neighborhoods, strong schools: The indicators project on education organizing. Chicago: Cross City Campaign for Urban School Reform & Research for Action.

Gramsci, A. (1980). Selections from the prison notebooks of Antonio Gramsci. New York: International Publishers.

Henderson, A.T., & Mapp, K. L. (2002). A new wave of evidence: The impact of school, family, and community connections on student achievement.Austin,TX: Southwest

Educational Development Laboratory.

Hirota, J. M., & Jacobs, L. E. (2003). Vital voices: Building constituencies for public school reform. New York: Academy for Educational Development and Chapin Hall Center for Children.

hooks, b. (1994). Teaching to transgress: Education as the practice of freedom. London: Routledge.

Hoover-Dempsey, K.V., & Sandler, H.M. (1997).Why do parents become involved in their children's education? Review of Educational Research, 67(1), 3–42.

Horvat, E.M.,Weininger, E. B., & Lareau, A. L. (2002). From social ties to social capital: Class differences in the relations between schools and parent networks. American

Educational Research Journal, 40(2), 319–351.

Laosa, L. M. (1983). Parent education, cultural pluralism, and public policy: The uncertain connection. In R. Haskins & D. Adams (Eds.), Parent education and public policy (pp. 331–345). Norwood, NJ: Ablex.

Lawson, M. A. (2003). School-family relations in context: Parent and teacher perceptions of parent involvement. Urban Education, 38(1), 77–133.

Lewis, A. E., & Forman,T. A. (2002). Contestation or collaboration? A comparative study of home-school relations. Anthropology & Education Quarterly, 33(1), 60–89.

Lopez, M. E. (2003). Transforming schools through community organizing: A research review. Cambridge, MA: Harvard Family Research Project. Retrieved May 9, 2004, from


Mediratta, K., Fruchter, N., & Lewis, A. C. (2002).Organizing for school reform: How communities are finding their voices and reclaiming their public schools. New York: New York University, Institute for Education and Social Policy.

Payne, R. (1998). Framework for understanding poverty. Highlands,TX: Aha! Press.

Rahman, A. (2001, September 19). Fear in the open city. The New York Times, p. A27.

Shirley,D. (1997). Community organizing for urban school reform.Austin,TX: University of Texas Press.

Smrekar, C., & Cohen-Vogel, L. (2001).The voices of parents: Rethinking the intersection of family and school. Peabody Journal of Education, 76(2), 75–100.

Swadener, B. B. (1995). Children and families "at promise": Deconstructing the discourse of risk. Albany, NY: State University of New York Press.

Zirkel, P., & Reichner, H. F. (1986). Is the in loco parentis doctrine dead? Journal of Law and Education, 15(3), 271–283.

8:3 FEBRUARY 2005 | ASCA 235

Struggling Students Want Vocational Education, Poll Shows By Mitchell Landsberg, L.A. Times Staff Writer

April 6, 2006

Most American high schools phased out vocational education years ago, motivated by complaints that it was used as a tool to "track" African American and Latino students into low-paying careers.

But the idea of combining traditional academics with career training is making a comeback, and a poll released Wednesday suggests that it is popular among one particularly important group: struggling high school students.

The poll of California 9th- and 10th-graders, conducted for the James Irvine Foundation, found that six in 10 students didn't particularly like school and weren't motivated to succeed. But of those disaffected students, more than 90% said they would be more motivated if their school offered classes relevant to their future careers.

The poll was conducted to coincide with the launch of an Irvine Foundation center dedicated to encouraging the growth of career-oriented education in California. The foundation is spending $6 million on a new San Francisco-based center called ConnectEd: The California Center for College and Career.

"Whether you're talking about dropout rates or the number of youth unprepared for college and career, the basic point is the same: High schools simply are not working for too many of California's young people," said Jim Canales, president and chief executive officer of the Irvine Foundation, a nonprofit founded by Orange County land baron James Irvine. "We need to promote programs of study that blend academic rigor and real-world learning if we hope to inspire more of our youth to stay and succeed in school."

Vocational education, a staple in American high schools for much of the 20th century, was widely discredited in the 1970s and '80s as a tool that, wittingly or not, perpetuated class divisions. Even as interest has increased recently in bringing back work-oriented classes, educators shun the term "vocational," instead referring to "career and technical education" or "multiple pathways to success."

By whatever name, the point is the same: To find material that catches the interest of at-risk students, keeps them motivated and stops them from dropping out. And any talk of career education now also comes with the assurance that it will be academically rigorous, leading students to some kind of postsecondary education.

"We want to help all students get to the same destination, and that is graduating from high school prepared and inspired to go on to both college and career — not one or the other," Gary Hoechlander, president of ConnectEd, said in a telephone news conference. "But we believe that we need to recognize that different students will reach that destination in different ways."

Hoechlander said ConnectEd would promote high school programs that "connect academics to challenging technical courses in such fields as business and finance, biomedical and health sciences, building and environmental design, engineering, advanced manufacturing, law and government, transportation, hospitality and tourism."

He insisted that the programs would not conflict with the state's push toward a more rigorous academic curriculum.

But Chris Walker, a lobbyist for several blue-collar trade groups in Sacramento, predicted that ConnectEd would confront barriers from the University of California and the California State University systems, which are loath to accept some vocational courses as college prep material. Increasingly, California school districts are adopting the entry requirements of the university systems as high school graduation requirements.

"More and more, this college pathway is edging career tech out," Walker said.

The poll commissioned by Irvine, which was conducted by Peter D. Hart Research Associates among a representative sample of California high school students, found that only 39% of students said they liked going to school and that their school "does a good job of motivating me to work hard and do my best."

The remaining 61% who disagreed with that statement were selected for more in-depth interviews. Of those students, 88% said they probably would enroll in a career-oriented school if they had the chance.

There was virtually no difference among racial or ethnic groups, but in a departure from stereotype, girls were more likely than boys to say that they would benefit from hands-on learning.

The in-depth portion of the poll was conducted among 619 9th- and 10th-graders throughout California, and has a margin of error of plus or minus four percentage points

Our Tounge-Tied Students: Susan Black

Education Vital Signs : U.S. Schools in Facts and Figures 2006: American School Board Journal


Habla Español? Parlez-vous Français?

By far, Spanish and French top the list of foreign languages taught in K-12 schools, followed by German, Italian, Japanese, and Russian. Only a few schools teach Chinese, Arabic, Farsi, Hindi, and other languages the federal government recently labeled "critical" for national defense and economic security. The U.S. Department of State says "deficits in foreign language learning and teaching" hamper security, diplomacy, law enforcement, intelligence, and cultural understanding. And the Committee for Economic Development, a policy group of business leaders and university presidents, warns that "strong foreign language programs at the elementary, high school, and college levels" are necessary to maintain competitiveness in global markets.

Money talks -- and might change the sound of foreign languages in your schools. At press time, the House Appropriations Committee was recommending $21.78 million in its pending appropriations bill to support competitive grants to school districts and states to increase foreign language instruction. This funding -- the same as the 2006 level -- is part of a recommended $105.8 million total for foreign language initiatives.

There's been talk of an additional fund for Chinese-language programs in public schools, but Capitol Hill watchers say that possibility seems remote in this budget cycle.

Pushed to the margins. Some school officials are worried about saving the foreign language programs they have now, much less having to add new programs.

In Indiana, for instance, several school leaders balked at the state's recent proposal to offer foreign languages in every middle school. Some told The Indianapolis Star they struggle as it is "to find enough Spanish teachers and the money to pay them."

Others say scheduling is their biggest problem. "I've squeezed Spanish into 12-week blocks in grades 6-8," a New York principal told me. "It's the only way I could fit in New York state's requirement for two years of foreign language by the end of ninth grade."

Another principal confided to me that she's cut back foreign language instruction to make time for more practice tests in reading and math. The National Association of State Boards of Education probably wouldn't be surprised to hear these comments. Facing pressure from NCLB and state tests, NASBE reports, many schools are "pushing foreign language to the margins."

Hit or miss

The United States lags behind many countries in making foreign language compulsory, says Ingrid Pufahl of the Center for Applied Linguistics. Some countries, including the Czech Republic, Denmark, Finland, Germany, and Netherlands, require that students study two foreign languages. Here, however, only Florida, Texas, and a handful of other states require any foreign language at all for high school graduation, according to the Council of Chief State School Officers. Some states require only college-bound students to study another language. But most states defer to local districts, giving them the option to require foreign language courses, make them optional, or leave them out.

These inconsistent requirements contribute to uneven and unequal access, gaps that are reflected in income and race. Only 25 percent of students in low-income and low-performing urban schools study a foreign language, compared to 65 percent of students in wealthy and private suburban schools, reports Myrian Met of the University of Maryland's National Foreign Language Center. And even in suburban schools, foreign language study can be hit or miss. Maryland's Montgomery County offers a "rich linguistic feast" of foreign languages to more than 44,000 students, says Washington Post education writer Jay Mathews. But language offerings "ebb and flow" according to supply and demand. For instance, Gaithersburg High School, also in suburban Maryland, offers just one Arabic class, and that, Mathews says, is "happenstance." When the school's only Arabic language teacher left last year, a special education teacher, an Israeli Arab who is a U.S. citizen, agreed to teach one early- morning class to 12 students. A senior in the class says his greatest difficulty is "the depth of the language," referring to Arabic's complex semantic structure. He worries that one year won't be enough to master the vocabulary and become a fluent speaker. He's right. Everette Jordan, a linguist with the Department of Defense, told a 2002 National Press Club briefing that it takes seven to nine years of intensive instruction -- four years in high school and college and three to five years of additional training -- to become adept at translation, conversation, interpretation, and negotiation in any foreign language. It takes even longer to produce experts in intelligence, defense, and international business who can "read between the lines" and discern language complexities such as irony, allusion, intention, and subtle threats, he said.

The cultural divide

Of course, learning a foreign language well involves more than memorizing words. Students cannot master a language, say Elizabeth Peterson and Bronwyn Coltrane of the Center for Applied Linguistics, until they've "mastered the cultural contexts in which the language occurs."

As the Massachusetts framework for foreign languages puts it, "Language learning is never just about words." And for that reason, the National Standards in Foreign Language, developed by the American Council on the Teaching of Foreign Languages and other agencies, includes culture -- along with communication, connections, comparisons, and communities -- as a core curriculum component. But some teachers overlook opportunities to infuse culture into daily lessons. A lesson published by Georgetown University's National Capital Language Resource Center is designed to teach 4- to 7-year-olds new vocabulary using real or plastic fruit and laminated cards depicting apples, bananas, oranges, grapes, and peaches. But the lesson doesn't introduce the children to fruits such as apricots and figs, staples in many Arabic-speaking countries. And it veers off course when the teacher turns it into a competition, awarding a prize to the child with the most cards. Such lessons suggest it's time to rethink how U.S. schools teach foreign languages and cultures -- especially in light of a recent study by the National Geographic Education Foundation.

Half of U.S. 18- to 24-year-olds have dangerously low cultural understandings of world populations and world events, NGEF concluded. The study found that too many young Americans "are unprepared for an increasingly global future":

• 63 percent could not locate Iraq on a map, and 50 percent could not find New York.

• 60 percent do not speak a foreign language with fluency.

• 20 percent think Sudan is in Asia instead of Africa.

• 48 percent believe most people in India are Muslim instead of Hindu.

• 50 percent think it is "important but not absolutely necessary" to know where countries are located.

• 47 percent think it is "important but not absolutely necessary" to speak a foreign language, and 38 percent say it is "not too important."

Language for life

Language-learning is "long-term, serious, and difficult," says David Edwards, executive director of the Joint National Committee for Languages, who recently proposed beginning a "foreign language pipeline" in the elementary grades and continuing it through college. Starting foreign languages early is a good idea, according to the American Educational Research Association, because young children tend to speak new languages more fluently and often have better pronunciation than older students.

But an "earlier is better approach" doesn't guarantee spectacular results, AERA cautions in the Spring 2006 issue of Research Points -- Essential Information for Education Policy -- especially if programs do little more than teach kids how to pronounce piñata or sing a few rounds of "Frere Jacques."

It's more important to make language-learning "age-appropriate" than to begin with 5-year-olds, AERA researchers say. For young students, full-immersion programs that integrate language learning into other subjects work best for achieving mastery. For older students, lessons should emphasize explicit rules and grammar, plus conversations with classmates and native speakers that convey meaning and fully formed ideas. Mastering one foreign language makes it easier and faster to learn a second or even a third, says Myriam Met, of the University of Maryland's National Foreign Language Center. Met recommends "cross-training" students -- teaching similarities and differences between Arabic and Spanish, for instance -- so they'll be prepared to meet "unforeseen, acute needs for other languages as they arise."

Cross-training could be the best way to teach foreign languages, given the rapid pace of world affairs. As the Department of State's John Campbell once noted, "A year ago the Foreign Service needed Albanian speakers desperately; now they need Pashtun speakers."

From classroom to world stage

Some years ago I attended a Pentagon briefing where military officials showed the locations of battles, border disputes, insurgencies, and other conflicts on a world map. "The world is a very dangerous place," one officer remarked, pointing to emerging hot spots in places I had never heard of. Recently I checked with U.S. Navy Captain Edward Kane, who serves with the United States European Command. USEUCOM's "area of responsibility" covers 21 million square miles, stretching from Norway, through the Baltic and Mediterranean seas, across most of Europe and parts of the Middle East, to the tip of South Africa. It includes 23 percent of the world's population -- 1.4 billion people in 91 countries and territories -- who speak more than 40 foreign languages, from Azerbaijani to Swahili. Keeping surveillance over this vast territory requires highly trained foreign language experts who can interpret many languages and dialects and can "go much deeper" and analyze "what is being said and the context of its meaning," Kane said. If the foreign language pipeline works as planned, 5-year-olds may soon be learning Arabic and Chinese, but -- depending on world developments -- some could wind up speaking Afrikaans or Punjabi. One day, perhaps, those young language learners in your schools will help make the world a safer place.

Esther Rege Park

GLSEN's 2005 National School Climate Survey Sheds New Light on Experiences of Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual and Transgender (LGBT) Students : Apri 26, 2006


Washington, DC - April 26, 2006 - The Gay, Lesbian and Straight Education Network, or GLSEN, today announced findings from the 2005 National School Climate Survey (NSCS), the only national survey to document the experiences of students who identify as lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender (LGBT) in America's schools. The survey results were released today at the National Press Club in conjunction with GLSEN's 10th national Day of Silence.

"The 2005 National School Climate Survey reveals that anti-LGBT bullying and harassment remain commonplace in America's schools," said GLSEN Founder and Executive Director Kevin Jennings. "On the positive side, it also makes clear that inclusive policies, supportive school staff and student clubs, like Gay-Straight Alliances, all relate to reduced harassment and higher achieving students."

Key Findings of the 2005 National School Climate Survey include:

The Scope of the Problem:

75. 4% of students heard derogatory remarks such as "faggot" or "dyke" frequently or often at school, and nearly nine out of ten (89.2%) reported hearing "that's so gay" or "you're so gay" - meaning stupid or worthless- frequently or often.

Over a third (37.8%) of students experienced physical harassment at school on the basis of sexual orientation and more than a quarter (26.1%) on the basis of their gender expression. Nearly one-fifth (17.6%) of students had been physically assaulted because of their sexual orientation and over a tenth (11.8%) because of their gender expression.

Academic Engagement, Aspirations and Achievement:

LGBT students were five times more likely to report having skipped school in the last month because of safety concerns than the general population of students.

LGBT students who experience more frequent physical harassment were more likely to report they did not plan to go to college. Overall, LGBT students were twice as likely as the general population of students to report they were not planning to pursue any post-secondary education. The average GPA for LGBT students who were frequently physically harassed was half a grade lower than that of LGBT students experiencing less harassment (2.6 versus 3.1).

Positive Interventions and Support:

The presence of supportive staff contributed to a range of positive indicators including greater sense of safety, fewer reports of missing days of school, and a higher incidence of planning to attend college.

Students in schools with a GSA were less likely to feel unsafe, less likely to miss school, and more likely to feel like they belonged at their school than students in schools with no such clubs.

Having a comprehensive policy was related to a lower incidence of hearing homophobic remarks and to lower rates of verbal harassment. Students at schools with inclusive policies also reported higher rates of intervention by school staff when homophobic remarks were made.

Only nine states and the District of Columbia have comprehensive anti-bullying laws that specifically address bullying and harassment based on sexual orientation and only three of these laws mention gender identity. Nine other states have "generic" anti-bullying laws that do not specifically define "bullying" or enumerate categories of protected classes such as sexual orientation or gender identity. The remaining 32 states have no laws at all. The NSCS found that both states with "generic" anti-bullying laws and states with no law at all had equally high rates of verbal harassment. States with inclusive policies that specifically enumerate categories including sexual orientation and gender identity, however, have significantly lower rates of verbal harassment (31.6% vs. 40.8%).

"These reports from LGBT students echo recent reports from the larger population of students in the United States," said Joseph Kosciw, PhD, Research Director for GLSEN. "In a recent national study conducted by GLSEN and Harris Interactive, 62.5% of secondary school students reported that other students were called names or harassed at their school on the basis of their actual or perceived sexual orientation, which was very similar to the 64.1% of LGBT students in the NSCS who reported experiencing such harassment."

he National School Climate Survey is being released in coordination with GLSEN's 10th national Day of Silence(r) (www.dayofsilence.org ) where nearly 500,000 students from 4,000 secondary schools and colleges are expected to take part in activities to address the serious problems of anti-LGBT bullying and harassment, while advocating for solutions - like inclusive policies, GSAs and educator trainings - to ensure safe schools for ALL students.

GLSEN's National School Climate Survey is the only national survey to document the experiences of students who identify as LGBT in America's secondary schools and has been conducted biennially since 1999. This year's survey includes responses from 1,732 LGBT students between the ages of 13 and 20 from all 50 states and the District of Columbia. Data collection was conducted through community based groups and service organizations, from April to July 2005, and online from April to August 2005. The complete survey and additional information about methodology and demographics may be obtained by calling GLSEN's Communications Department at 212-727-0135 or by visiting www.glsen.org


GLSEN, or the Gay, Lesbian and Straight Education Network, is the leading national education organization focused on ensuring safe schools for all students. Established nationally in 1995, GLSEN envisions a world in which every child learns to respect and accept all people, regardless of sexual orientation or gender identity/expression. For more information on our educator resources, research, public policy agenda, student organizing programs or development initiatives, visit www.glsen.org.

Breaking the Gender Dichotomy: The Case for Transgender Education in School Curriculum

by Kand S. McQueen — August 14, 2006

Teachers College Record, Date Published: August 14, 2006

Gender is viewed by western society, as well as most of the world, as a two-gender paradigm consisting of the specific categories of male and female. Accompanying this dichotomous archetype are very stringent, socially constructed rules and regulations defining precisely what it means to be a man or woman. Above all else, male and female are seen as separate entities and mutually exclusive, complementing, but never overlapping categories. Like the rest of society, much, if not most of current school curriculum is based around the assumption that all students can easily be classified as male or female, thereby perpetuating the dichotomous gender ideology; however, the truth is, while most people fit this paradigm, some do not. The purpose of this commentary is to challenge the underlying assumptions of the gender dichotomy, to identify how the dichotomy affects all students, and to make a case for including a transgender curriculum in our schools.


The great majority of people who perceive themselves as male are born with male genitalia and those who perceive themselves as female are born with female genitalia. The exceptions are transgendered persons (Cook-Daniels, 1997), who either permanently or periodically do not identify with the sex they were assigned at birth (Carroll, Gilroy, & Ryan, 2002). Transgendered individuals physically appear to be one sex, but inwardly feel as if they are the other sex.

Currently, transgenderism is considered to be a psychological disorder. Gender dysphoria is a psychiatric term used to describe a fundamental incongruence between a person's birth sex and his or her gender identity. Also known as gender identity disorder (GID), it is characterized by a strong and persistent cross-gender identification and a persistent discomfort with one's sex that is not motivated by any perceived cultural advantages of being the other sex (American Psychiatric Association, 1994). At present, there is an ongoing debate about whether the condition of gender identity disorder should continue to be classified as a disorder. From a legal standpoint, New Jersey recently ruled that transsexualism, a form of transgenderism describing an individual who lives full time in the so-called opposite gender (Cook-Daniels, 2002), is a disorder and, consequently, a handicap (Kiely, 2001). Conversely, Bartlett, Vasey, and Bukowksi (2000) utilized empirical studies in an effort to determine if GID in children met the American Psychiatric Association's Diagnostic and Statistical Manual, 4th Edition (DSM-IV) criteria of mental disorder. They concluded that the diagnostic category of GID in children as it currently exists should not appear in future editions of the DSM. Additionally, there is no evidence to support the idea of "curing" a young person of his or her gender dysphoric feelings (see Bradley & Zucker, 1997). While questions of transgender etiology provide for interesting epistemological discourse, the issue at hand concerns how schools should be dealing with students who do not fit the current gender dichotomy.


Homophobia is often attributed to a broadly established heterosexism, a term that Herek (1992b) defines as "…an ideological system that denies, denigrates, and stigmatizes any nonheterosexual form of behavior, identity, relationship, or community" (p. 89). Similar to racism, sexism, and other systematic forms of oppression, heterosexism is perpetrated in both societal customs and institutions, and in individual attitudes and behaviors. The belief that everyone is, or at least should be, heterosexual feeds the rampant homophobia present in today's society. Similarly, there exists a gender dichotomism. Like heterosexism, gender dichotomism reflects the belief that everyone is born unambiguously male or female and anyone not fitting the dichotomy is seriously flawed. By failing to acknowledge the existence, let alone the normalcy of transgendered individuals, the schools only foster the hegemony of the gender dichotomist ideology.


Sexual orientation and gender identity are two completely different attributes, like age and race (Cook-Daniels, 1997). Most gay men feel like men and most lesbians feel like women. Transgendered individuals may be heterosexual, homosexual, bisexual, or asexual. However, there appears to be somewhat of a tendency in at least some of the available literature to lump transgenderism in with gay, lesbian, and bisexual populations, even when to do so is questionable. For example, Mufioz-Plaza and Rounds (2002) conducted face-to-face interviews with 12 male and female participants in an effort to determine the types of social support systems available to gay, lesbian, bisexual and transsexual (GLBT) high school students. These individuals were described as, "…18-21 years old, who identify as gay, lesbian, bisexual or transgender" (p. 52). The authors go on to apply their conclusions to GLBT adolescents. However, not one of the participants in the study was transgendered; transgendered youth were recruited but none chose to participate. Regardless, the authors continue to discuss their conclusions as if transgendered individuals were represented in their sample. Another example is found in a report that compared the challenges of GLBT homeless adolescents with their heterosexual counterparts (Cochran, Stewart, Ginzler, & Cause, 2002). The sample consisted of what was described as 375 sexual minority adolescents, aged 13-21. Only one youth self-identified as transgendered and yet the entire discussion proceeded to group "T" in with "GLB."

Lack of scientific studies notwithstanding, there are similarities found in comparing the experiences of gay, lesbian, and bisexual students with those of the transgendered: Both groups are perceived as challenging the limits of acceptable gender behavior, which may be at least part of the reason they are ostracized by the gender-conforming majority of society-at-large (see Herek, 1992a).

There are, however, differences in the experiences of GLB and T students. Friend (1993) suggests that gay, lesbian, and bisexual students have been made invisible, their voices silenced. If GLB students are invisible, then transgendered students are currently inconceivable (Cook-Daniels, 1997). Consider, for example, the differences in nomenclature between the two groups. "Homosexual" has "heterosexual" as its opposite. The question, "Are you homosexual?" can be answered in the negative with, "No, I am heterosexual." However, the word "transgendered" has no accepted opposite term. Hence, there is no easy way to answer the question, "Are you transgendered?" in the negative. Accordingly, the answer becomes, "No, I am…normal." This lack of terminology contributes to the underlying assertion that non-adherence to the gender dichotomy equates abnormality and deviancy even beyond the heterosexist view of same-sex attraction.

Another difference involves the locus of conflict for the two groups. Many gay, lesbian, and bisexual students come to realize that the conflicts they experience are a result of society's homophobia and heterosexism, not their own homo/bisexuality per se (Friend, 1993). Hence, the source of conflict for the gay, lesbian, or bisexual student lies outside of the individual, resulting in an external locus of conflict. Transgendered individuals also experience the effects of homophobia, heterosexism (whether warranted or not), and gender dichotomism. But unlike the GLB student, the transgendered individual also experiences a very personal, inner conflict: They feel they are in the wrong body. Even if gender dichotomism were non-existent and society was completely accepting of gender dysphoric individuals, these individuals would still have to live with the conflict of residing in a physical sex that is incongruent with their inner feelings. In this way, transgendered students experience both an external and an internal locus of conflict, and consequently, are doubly affected.


Friend (1993) proposes that schools have reinforced heterosexism and homophobia by employing two silencing mechanisms: systematic exclusion and systematic inclusion. Systematic exclusion occurs when positive role models, messages, and images about GLB people are silenced in the school. Examples of systematic exclusion include the following: teachers who take action to interrupt racist or sexist name-calling but do not intervene when homophobic comments are made; school officials who fail to protect students from peer harassment and violence; and also, the systematic exclusion of issues pertaining to sexual orientation from the curriculum. Systematic inclusion occurs when discussions regarding homosexuality are always placed in a negative context. Examples include characterizing a gay male as a predator of young boys, only speaking of homosexuality when addressing the topic of HIV/AIDS—which serves to link homosexuality with danger and pathology—and only addressing sexual behavior when discussing homosexuality. This results in an underlying message that homosexuality equates with sex, while heterosexuality equates with love. While Friend makes an effective argument about the potential damage of such discourse, it should be noted that homosexuality, at the very least, is beginning to be acknowledged in the schools. Transgenderism is treated as a non-entity within school curriculum. If schools fail to raise awareness of the transgender phenomenon, students' only exposure to this population may come from sources like The Jerry Springer Show.

Schools can begin to raise awareness by educating students about the existence of transgenderism. Many, if not most disciplines are already well suited to include this topic in their subject matter. Biological, historical, sociological, and legal perspectives are but a few of the ways to begin to introduce the incidence of transgenderism to the student population. The inclusion of a transgendered curriculum in our educational systems could begin to remove the mystery, and as a result, the stigmatization of transgendered individuals.


Several reasons exist for teaching transgenderism, as there are benefits to be gained from such a curriculum for both transgendered and non-transgendered students.

Benefits for Transgendered Students

For transgendered students, a benefit of teaching a transgendered curriculum is an environment that is free of emotional and physical abuse. Many members of society become uncomfortable when the established boundaries of gender appropriateness are crossed. Consequently, students who overtly challenge society's gender expectations are at an increased risk of harassment and physical attack, which is evidenced by the rationale behind most anti-gay violence. The most often cited reason for attacking a person who is perceived to be homosexual is the victim's non-adherence to traditional gender roles (Patel, Long, McCammon, & Wuensch, 1995). Herek (1992a) posits that violent homophobic perpetrators may actually rationalize their actions by seeing gay people as worthy of punishment, which allows attackers to believe they are rendering gender justice by restoring the natural order. Whereas gay students are seen to be pushing gender boundaries by being sexual with a person of the same sex, transgendered students are seen as throwing the two-gender paradigm out the window. Violence, harassment, and terror often follow. Dennis and Harlow (as cited in Friend, 1993) claim that school officials are violating their in loco parentis duty when they fail to provide for students' safety. By showing that the transgendered person is a human being and not some kind of mutant monster, other students can begin to let go of their fears and prejudices, which can result in a much safer environment for the transgendered student.

Teaching transgenderism can also result in increased self-esteem for transgendered youths. Oftentimes, young people who question their gender identity feel as if there is something intrinsically wrong with them. By coming to view transgenderism as a naturally occurring phenomenon, they can better accept who they are, resulting in happier, better-adjusted transgendered students.

Benefits for Non-Transgendered Students

Teaching acceptance for transgenderism automatically challenges the two-gender paradigm, which could be of value to non-transgendered male and female students. Adolescence is typically a time of strict gender adherence. Transgender awareness can work to break down those rigid gender stereotypes and begin to allow males and females to be more self-accepting of their own "opposite" gender qualities.

Hate, fear and prejudice can result in profound psychological baggage for those individuals coming from a gender dichotomist viewpoint. Eliminating prejudice can serve to free the bigot from his or her own victimization (Lipkin, 1996). Replacing the current misunderstanding, misinformation, mystery, and fear surrounding transgenderism with understanding and acceptance could lead to better overall adjustment for all concerned.

Once students are able to move beyond their initial discomfort, transgenderism could become a fascinating topic, one that could lend itself to much dialogue and discussion. When students are engaged, the opportunity for serious learning is enhanced.


It is generally assumed that male and female are mutually exclusive categories. Perhaps it is time for society to take a closer look at that assumption. The phenomenon of transgenderism provides a challenge to the two-gender paradigm.

There are many questions surrounding the occurrence of transgenderism that have yet to be answered. While there are multiple etiological theories in existence, there is no one definitive agreement on why transgenderism exists. What is known, however, is that there are people in the world, many of them students in public education, who do not identify with their assigned sex. Ignoring their existence only serves to foster the hegemony of the gender dichotomist ideology. By embracing a transgendered curriculum, education could instead help us to recognize a broader and richer conception of humanity.


American Psychiatric Association. (1994). Diagnostic and statistical manual of mental disorders (4 ed.). Washington, DC: Author.

Bartlett, N. H., Vasey, P. L., & Bukowski, W. M. (2000). Is gender identity disorder in children a mental disorder? Sex Roles: A Journal of Research, 753-773.

Bradley, S. J., & Zucker, K. J. (1997). Gender identity disorder: A review of the past 10 years. Journal of the American Academy of Child and Adolescent Psychiatry, 36(7), 872-880.

Carroll, L., Gilroy, P. J., & Ryan, J. (2002). Counseling transgendered, transsexual, and gender-variant clients..Journal of Counseling & Development, 80, 131-139.

Cochran, B., Stewart, A., Ginzler, J., & Cause, A. (2002). Challenges faced by homeless sexual minorities: Comparison of gay, lesbian, bisexual, and transgender homeless adolescents with their heterosexual counterparts. American Journal of Public Health, 92(5), 773-777.

Cook-Daniels, L. (1997). Lesbian, gay male, bisexual and transgendered elders: elder abuse and neglect issues. Journal of Elder Abuse & Neglect, 9(2), 35-49.

Cook-Daniels, L. (2002, March). Elder abuse: A common ground column. Retrieved November 16, 2002, from: http://www.forge-forward.org/handouts/elderabuse-cg.htm

Friend, R. A. (1993). Choices, not closets: Heterosexism and homophobia in schools. In M. Fine (Ed.), Beyond silenced voices: Class, race, and gender in U.S. schools (pp. 209-235). NY: SUNY Press.

Herek, G. M. (1992a). Psychological heterosexism and anti-gay violence: The social psychology of bigotry and bashing. In G. M. Herek & K. T. Berrill (Eds.), Hate crimes: Confronting violence against lesbians and gay men (pp. 149-169). Newbury Park, CA: Sage.

Herek, G. M. (1992b). The social context of hate crimes: Notes on cultural heterosexism. In G. M. Herek & K. T. Berrill (Eds.), Hate crimes: Confronting violence against lesbians and gay men (pp. 89-104). Newbury Park, CA: Sage Publications.

Kiely, E. (2001, July 3). NJ court decides transsexualism is `gender identity disorder' and a handicap. Knight Ridder Newspapers.

Lipkin, A. (1996). The case for a gay and lesbian curriculum. In D. R. Walling (Ed.), Open lives safe schools (pp. 47-69). Bloomington, IN: Phi Delta Kappa Educational Foundation.

Mufioz-Plaza, C., Quinn, S., & Rounds, K. (2002, April/May). Lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender students: Perceived social support in the high school environment. The High School Journal, 52-63.

Patel, S., Long, T. E., McCammon, S. L., & Wuensch, K. L. (1995). Personality and emotional correlates of self-reported antigay behaviors. Journal of Interpersonal Violence, 10(3), 354-367.


Cite This Article as: Teachers College Record, Date Published: August 14, 2006

http://www.tcrecord.org ID Number: 12663, Date Accessed: 8/29/2006 2:08:16 PM

(Mis-)Education into American Racism

Linda J. Lin — 2007

How do people of goodwill who set out to work on American inequalities find out that race relentlessly divides them? I conducted fieldwork in a nonprofit school reform organization dedicated to "closing the achievement gap" in California public schools. For relatively low pay and status, people who join this organization commit two or more years of their lives to improving the standardized test scores of "low-income students of color and English Language Learners." These are the people who acknowledge racial and class inequalities and work to remedy them—those who strive to "turn talk into action." But goodwill, commitment, and hard work do not preclude conflict across racial lines. Race seems so dangerous that talking about it routinely catalyzes what people in this organization call "explosions." Efforts to "build community" and repair the damage seem to make matters worse. Before the end of the academic year, the executive director puts an end to race conversations, and nobody objects, at least within my hearing. The people who educate me about how race divides them have also learned to avoid talking about race with one another.

This case may not appear surprising to those concerned with race and racism in the United States, whether in the social sciences, in policy-making, or in program development. That race still matters is not news. It has become common sense to say that race is a social construction and that Americans should pay closer attention to how race is constructed. But these statements often do not lead to sustained focus on the very construction of race, on the ongoing history of a small group of people brought together and pulled apart, and certainly not on a group which has purposively come together to work at deconstructing race. Thus, in this paper I examine how and when people make race relevant in their everyday interactions and how they transform each other.1 To this extent, this is a paper about education, or perhaps mis-education, given the mutually unsatisfactory outcomes for everyone involved.


How to approach race in the United States is a compelling analytical question, particularly as researchers become more aware of the limitations of the more traditional approaches. On one hand, we have located race (and racism) in individuals or groups and reduced the ambiguities of interaction to differences in racial attitudes, levels of awareness, and stages in identity development. On the other hand, we have located race in social stratification and made it an over-determined product of inequalities in job opportunities, the educational system, housing markets, banking, health care, and the legal system. Both approaches overlook the nuances and uncertainties of how race matters in face-to-face interaction. We need theoretical approaches that take into account the complexities of negotiating race in everyday life and reveal race as dynamic, changing from moment to moment as people build social worlds together in everyday interaction. Thus, I look at the ever-changing ways in which people work to make sense of and transform the social realities they build together: the anxieties, pressures, and tensions that make up their everyday lives. Locating race in the patterning of local interaction opens new possibilities for better descriptions of the settings in which race is made to matter, when it matters, how it is made to matter, by whom and for what purposes. Building on Schegloff's methodological injunction not to predetermine what is socially consequential and when (1991), Favret-Saada's analysis of the ways things are said (1977), Wieder's analytical move from the convict code to its telling as consequential (1974), and McDermott and Varenne's cultural approach to the construction of disability (1995), I show in this paper what an interactional approach might yield.

Current literature has analyzed race talk at the level of national discourse, such as the debates over affirmative action and multiculturalism (Hu-DeHart, 1994, Taylor Appiah, Habermas, Rockefeller, Walzer, & Wolf, 1994, Tagaki, 1992). Scholars across disciplines call for more substantive and complex discussions of race in a highly racialized society (Lawrence, 2005, Guinier & Torres, 2002, Jennings, 2001, Gibel Azoulay, 1997, Blauner, 1994, Gregory, 1994, Morrison, 1992). Multiculturalists, diversity practitioners, educators, and other writers offer how-to guides or frameworks for race talk (Tanaka, 2003, Howard, 1999, Jacobs, 1999, Derman-Sparks & Phillips, 1997, Tatum, 1997), or reflect on pedagogical and institutional practices (Fine & Weis, 2003, Cochran-Smith, 2000, Sleeter, 1993, Anzaldúa, 1987). A few works look at the production of race in face-to-face interaction (Alim, 2005, Pollock, 2004, Lewis, 2003, Labov, 1990), but do not focus on collective efforts to talk about race as an educative and transformative endeavor.

An interactional analysis of race in the United States must begin with the anxiety and uncertainty people experience. But focusing on racialized uncertainty and anxiety can easily bring us back to a concern with psychological states, and particularly with what people (do not) know about racism. What we (do not) know is then put forward as the cause for the difficulty we experience. Noticing uncertainty and anxiety as produced in interaction leads me instead to look for the ways in which people teach one another about racism, resist this teaching, and propose and preclude alternate possibilities. Thus, I look at the maintenance of American racism as a process of mis-education.

I want to take a moment to clarify what I mean by "American racism." As I suggest above, I am not interested in identifying individuals in my fieldwork as "racist" and thus the cause of trouble. Nor do I focus on stratification in the organization as "racist" and deterministic of conflict. Instead I look at how people who work to undo racism come to know, and teach me about, how they are divided as "White" and "people of color" as an instantiation of American racism.2 This includes the traditional approaches to race as located in individuals and social structure, for current research on race is readily available to, and taken up by, the people in my fieldwork.

To look at interaction as education into racism, I emphasize that my work—an interactional process itself—is an educational endeavor about an educational endeavor. I document the education people constructed for one another, the education they helped develop for me as my fieldwork unfolded, and the education I attempt to build with the reader. I do this through a case study based on something people in my fieldwork called "the capes," a professional development activity that makes race acutely visible. Rather than focusing on the activity itself, I examine its telling: the ways in which I was instructed about it, and the ways in which I instruct the reader about it.

I show how people are educated into race in interaction with one another through their accounts of their experiences, but I do not simply report what they tell me. I also show how the telling of their experiences constitutes my own education into race as an observant participant and researcher. This article forms a third strand: how the reader finds out the interactional possibilities and constraints in and around race. I trace these three strands through the telling of the capes. The story of "what really happened" changed depending on who was doing the telling, to whom, when, and under what circumstances. Through these multiple tellings over time, I trace my own process of finding out about race in interaction. In retelling these stories to the reader and, more precisely, in examining the telling of these stories, I frame the reader's experience of finding out how race matters. By bringing together these three strands, I illustrate what might be gained by approaching race talk as a (mis-)educative process.

This paper focuses on five tellings of something that happened in the beginning of the school year as new interns were brought into the organization. The story of the capes was told to newcomers (such as myself) as illustrative of racialized conflict among current members of the organization. It seems that the story was also told to instruct listeners on how to interpret the ongoing racial conflict. Two things struck me about the telling of the capes. First, I heard the story from the various sides of the racial divide(s): from those identified in the organization as "White," from those identified as "people of color," and from those who did not fit neatly into either category. This event seemed to make race visible to almost everyone, while other events were meaningful only to a few people. Secondly, although people told this story months after it had happened, they told it with an emotional urgency as if it had just happened. I retell this story to the reader five times, in the order they occurred. With each telling, my understanding deepens—and so does the story I tell the reader.


To contextualize the scenes of the tellings, I begin by giving some background on the organization. The mission of the organization, according to promotional material, is as follows:

…to support high-poverty schools to close the gap in achievement between the highest- and lowest-performing student groups and achieve educational excellence for all students, regardless of race, socio-economic status, or other designation.

Closing "the gap," as some found to their dismay, was narrowly defined as raising standardized test scores of African American and Latino elementary school students on language arts.3 The organization placed teams of interns into schools to work with teachers and principals in developing and implementing strategies for "whole-school reform." These included "inquiry cycles" for teachers to examine and reflect on their own teaching, "lab classrooms" for teachers to observe one another's teaching, rearranging schedules and space to encourage collaboration within and across grade levels, developing "internal leadership" by recruiting teachers to leadership committees, and "racial professional development" for teachers, such as race conversations in voluntary "study groups" and in mandatory staff meetings. Interns worked in schools under the supervision of permanent staff members for four days a week. The fifth day was reserved for their professional development through eight-hour meetings organized by permanent staff members.

During the year of my fieldwork, nineteen interns were assigned to five teams working in seven schools. Eleven were second-year interns, having joined the organization a year earlier than the eight first-year interns and myself. The twentieth intern, also a second-year, worked in the office to facilitate communication across the five teams and between interns and permanent staff members. Interns, all recent college graduates, signed two-year contracts at a salary of less than $20,000 per year in one of the most expensive areas in the country. At the end of their contract, most were expected to leave the organization to pursue careers in education or other social services.

Ten permanent staff members supervised the interns and ran the organization, raising money, maintaining operations, and cultivating relationships with more schools and school districts. They enjoyed much higher salaries and better benefits than the interns, although some staff members reportedly enjoyed much higher salaries than others. Interns and low-level staff members often speculated on the salaries of higher-paid employees. An intern privately told me that a leader known for frequently complaining that he would have made more money as a doctor must make "a good amount of money. I notice his clothes." Getting into the spirit, I added, "His car." She smiled. "His car—zz. The Beemer, and the GMC Envoy." With a luxury sedan and a sport utility vehicle, the leader got little sympathy from someone who turned down more lucrative offers to make less than the living wage for the area (Economic Policy Institute, 2002).

While promotional literature and enthusiastic leaders described the organization as "diverse," some people routinely referred to it as a "white organization" or a "white-led organization," particularly when complaining of exclusion from decision-making processes. In private conversations and occasionally in "explosions," they cited elitism, nepotism, race, and wealth to explain patterns in whose voice was "heard," who was promoted, who held leadership positions, and who left the organization for which reasons. Other people also invoked race and passion in private conversations to describe the organization as dominated by "people of color" who "get to speak," whose "stories are validated," and who openly favor candidates of color over "middle-class," "professional" candidates for next year's cohort of interns.

At this point, the reader may readily identify those who made these comments in racial terms: the speakers of the first set of comments as "persons of color" and speakers of the second set as "White." Assuming a relationship between racial identification and the content of the complaints could appear unproblematic, particularly since the people in the organization themselves make this association, as might the "typical" American reader addressed by American research on American racism. However, I argue that the identification is a kind of interactional work that produces the dichotomy of people of color/White. One consequence of this work, among others, is to make it easy to overlook people whom I call, for lack of a better term, "ambiguously raced." These are people who would qualify for affirmative action on the basis of federally recognized categories, such as White, Black or African American, Hispanic or Latino, Asian, and Some Other Race. They talk about organizational "diversity" as constricting, based on simplistic and essentialist categories that do not have room for them: a Latino from a working-class, heavily Latino neighborhood who expresses socially conservative views; a woman of Chinese ancestry whose family lived in Vietnam for generations before immigrating to Philadelphia; and a middle-class, mixed-race man with a degree from an elite university recognized as a "person of color" by "White" people but not by "people of color" whose racial authenticity was questioned less than his. As for me, I would be classified for federal purposes as Asian and positioned in the organization as "ambiguously raced." Whether I was more "white" or "of color" depended, it seemed, on who got to decide and under what conditions. Perhaps this was based on my constant transgression of color lines: insisting, despite discouragement, on talking with and taking seriously both "White people" (including White-affiliated Asian Americans) and "people of color."4

I conducted fieldwork in this organization from December 2003 to July 2004. I attended the weekly professional development meetings and biweekly staff meetings, participating in discussions and taking notes. I observed goings-on in the main office, such as interviews with job candidates. I visited interns and supervisors at their school sites, focusing on two of the seven schools. At the schools, I attended team meetings and faculty meetings, and participated in school events such as a celebration of César Chavez Day. At the schools and in the main office I collected site documents, conducted interviews, and had informal chats with teachers, students, interns, and staff members.


A problem in analyzing racialized interaction is finding out when and how race matters. How is race meaningful in "an organization that thinks race matters," as a leader describes it, among people who think race matters? Does race always matter? Does it matter more when there is conflict? Or is race obscuring more fundamental problems? A staff member comments, "Everything is looking like race. Even when it isn't." People in the organization continually work to figure out when and how race matters in their interactions with one another, and what to do about it.

One way to find out when and how race matters is to ask people. As a researcher known to be interested in race conversations, I did so. Not surprisingly, the accounts of how race mattered in the organization and in American society seemed to contradict one another. Rather than taking what people told me as truth, or trying to sift truth from conflicting accounts, I look at the telling of stories as the unit of analysis—specifically, the telling itself as educative of a researcher on how race matters.

In this paper, I identify participants only in terms of race and position, such as "White intern" or "African-American staff member." I identify people racially since I have made my research about race, and I do so based on what would be uncontroversial for them to do while, for example, filling out a questionnaire about minority status. This does some injury to the people involved, as they tended to use given names when telling the stories, without racial identifications (although some spoke abstractly about "whiteness" or unnamed "people of color"). For a Vietnamese-Chinese American intern who repeatedly objected to having to identify herself with the available racial or ethnic categories, the racial identifications I make in this paper may feel like a violation—although not an unfamiliar one. Nor do people "have" fixed or easily recognizable identities.5 For example, the Vietnamese-Chinese American intern was recognizable as Vietnamese to people familiar with Vietnamese names, but not recognizable as Chinese until she revealed her ethnic background. By using racial and ethnic identifiers, rather than names or symbols, I could be accused of being one of those who make race "more important than it ‘really' is," or, in the staff member's words, making "everything look like race even when it isn't." But, in this particular context, the issue is not what the "true" level of racialization in the organization or in the United States is. The issue is positioning this particular paper, as an educating piece, in the larger public conversation on race in the United States. Moreover, readers do not have ready access to the phenotypic or biographical information available to people in the organization, nor to the ways in which they became racially recognizable to one another in interaction.

The category "Asian American" offers a compelling illustration of the contingent nature of racial identity. At the institutional level, "Asians" were sometimes grouped with White people, for example, when describing the achievement gap, and sometimes with people of color, for example when celebrating the organization's diversity. At the interactional level, the "racial" status of individual Asian Americans in the organization seemed to depend on whether they consistently sided with "the White people," "the people of color," or both or neither (leaving them "ambiguously raced"). Occasionally Asian Americans were treated as neither white or "of color," as when a White leader once described their role in a scene of racialized conflict: "The Asians stayed out of it, let us do our thing." Some people who identified themselves as Asian Americans objected to the term "Asian"—a term commonly used in promotional literature and by non-Asian Americans—with its implication of foreignness. Others who objected to being identified as Asian American echoed current controversies over who counts as Asian American and on what terms. Illustrating these various complexities, a Vietnamese American intern (who did not mind being classified as Asian American, as Vietnamese, or as Asian but expressed disappointment that others balked at identifying themselves as Asian American) asked leaders of the organization to serve Southeast Asian students along with Latino and African-American students. After all, they fit the description of "low-income students of color and English Language Learners" and systematically produced low scores on standardized tests of language arts.

That I have only briefly mentioned class reflects its infrequent use in organizational discourse. In some cases, people seemed to imply class differences when using racial categories. For example, discussions of the organization as "white" or "white-led" often involved references to leaders' elite educations, family wealth, and communication styles as markers of difference. At other times, people talked about race without seeming to consider or invoke class. For example, when leaders spoke of organizational diversity they did not seem to consider that many of the "people of color" came from comfortable middle-class backgrounds and had little experience in the "communities" the organization purported to serve. Class did not show up explicitly in the telling of the cape activity, at least those in which I was involved, but this does not mean that people did not consider class relevant to what happened in the scene and in subsequent interaction.


I first heard about the capes in April 2004, after observing (and thus participating in) months of relentless racial conflict. The cape activity occurred on September 12, 2003, over two months before I began visiting the organization regularly. For the first few months, I heard little about how race mattered in the organization beyond the official version: here in this diverse organization we're all working together to close the achievement gap. The implication seemed to be that race was a problem in schools, but not in the organization. When I asked, people often skirted the issue, pleading ignorance or redirecting me to another topic. But once I became implicated in racial conflict, along with everyone else, people began to tell me about their troubles with race in the organization. One of the stories they told me was the story of the "capes."

With each telling I found out more about what happened, in the activity itself and subsequently, as interpretations of what happened continued to resonate in organizational life. As I found out more, I slowly shifted positions, from a newcomer who knew little about race in this context, to someone who found out a great deal about "what really happened" as it mattered over time. Although I did not observe the activity, I became directly involved in the various ways in which "what really happened" was taken up and used to make sense of the ongoing ambiguities of everyday life.

Telling #1, April 27

Over lunch in a Thai restaurant, an African American intern shared with me her frustration that people in the organization "don't want to name things. I want to name things." For example, she wanted to talk about the disproportionately high number of African American boys shunted to special education classes. The ways in which African Americans perpetuate racism. How to talk about race, racism, and internalized racism without being condescending. When she brought up these issues, she told me, nobody would engage with them.

Then she told me a little about the trouble on her team. Given what we had just talked about, it seemed to me that race mattered in this situation as well. Her teammates—a White woman, a Filipina woman who counted two White interns as close friends, and a Vietnamese-Chinese American resistant to categorizing herself racially or ethnically—went to higher-ups to complain about her rather than working things through with her. In doing so, they bypassed their African American supervisor to talk with his manager, who was White. The African American intern lamented the uncomfortable dynamic in team meetings. "They make me a bad guy," she told me sadly. And it wasn't just her—her teammates were also having trouble with their supervisor, and instead of working things through with him, they complained about him to his manager.

At this point she began to tell me the story of the capes. The cape activity was a professional development session in the beginning of the school year. An African American supervisor, who had facilitated race conversations the previous week, gave people large sheets of butcher paper to hang over their backs as "capes." They were instructed to write their first impressions of one another on these capes. The point of the activity, it seems, was to learn that people convey racial information whether they intend to or not, and that this racial information can affect working relationships.

When people took off their capes, several were upset at what was written on them. One person found "white girl" written on her cape. Another person found "really white" written on her cape. "Whitewashed" was written on a third cape, and "talks white" on a fourth. Apparently, an African American staff member known for his chipper attitude (not the facilitator) told people, "Take risks, keep trying."

My immediate reaction was to feel that I understood better the "explosion" that had happened only weeks before. This organization wasn't a place where one could actually talk about race, I thought. People couldn't handle being confronted with how others thought of them racially, and the consequences were still reverberating. I also felt a twinge of sympathy with the recipients. Anonymous comments literally written behind their backs seemed a painful and humiliating way to find out that people read them as racially inauthentic, as oblivious, as having an inflated sense of entitlement, perhaps even as racist. At the same time, it seemed germane that anonymity was required before anyone could broach race as it already mattered.

Telling #2, May 5

The plot thickened about a week later, when I told an abbreviated version of the story I had heard to an African American staff member. She was also a relative newcomer to the organization, having joined after the cape activity. She had been hired to replace an African American staff member may have been labeled as "talks white."6 Having spoken privately to the supervisor who led the activity, who left weeks later on bad terms with the organization, she knew more than me about what had happened and proceeded to instruct me.

After I finished my account she immediately told me that two of the teams—the teams with four of the five White interns in the organization—had "had trouble with African American supervisors." That the two teams (who shared a supervisor) clashed with two different African American supervisors seemed to suggest that people on these teams could not brook supervision from African American authority figures. She did not need to repeat to me that one of the teams was known for internal racial conflict or that the other team, a predominantly White team, was privately called "The Racist Team." She had already told me that the Latino intern on The Racist Team was "totally overwhelmed" by his three White teammates, and we had already discussed the plight of the African American intern, who was the only African American intern on her team and in the organization. We had speculated that part of their isolation could be attributed to the elitism and classism embedded in an organization that focused on the purported deficiencies of poor children of color and sought to bring them "up" to middle-class standards. This included alienating interactions with teammates oblivious to these problems.

The supervisor who facilitated the activity, she told me, wanted to do something to address these tensions already in play. I took this to mean that the supervisor had designed the activity specifically for her interns, to give interns of color an opportunity to say what needed to be said, and to enlist their help in teaching the White interns (and possibly some Asian American interns) about how race operates, often against one's best intentions.

With this telling I found out that the trouble did not start with the capes; it was already happening within the first week people came together. By the second week, when the cape activity occurred, at least one supervisor was already planning how to address race as it already mattered among the people in the organization. In this context the African American supervisor was responding to—not causing—racial trouble.

The addition of contextual information seemed to be triggered by my knowing something about what had happened, but not enough. Perhaps in my telling, I seemed to imply that the cape activity caused racial trouble, and that the African American supervisor was to blame for bad planning. Maybe I appeared to convey too much sympathy for those who were racially labeled. Or perhaps the teller thought I focused too much on the racial labeling and its consequences when the issue was the conditions that necessitated the planning of such an activity. Whatever it was that I seemed to misunderstand, I received instruction to pay attention to the conditions that produced the need to surface racial tensions, and thus, make them addressable.

Telling #3, May 7

Two days later I talked with another person in the organization, about our families, our goals, and, of course, our views on trouble in the organization. Since the person asked me to protect their confidentiality from people in the organization as well as from potential readers of my writing, I strive not to use any identifying characteristics, such as race, gender, or position in the organization in the story. I refer to the person as "the speaker." The telling of the cape activity from another perspective—that of someone who found out the hard way the consequences of making racial labels unavoidably visible—well illustrates the interactional process of mis-education into race.

When I mentioned the capes, the speaker responded with some gravity, explaining that the facilitator was asked "to do some sort of race PD [professional development]." The facilitator did not give good instructions for the activity, the speaker claimed. She reportedly told the interns, "Write your first impressions based on what people look like, not after you have gotten to know them." When people asked for clarity, the facilitator apparently said, "I'm going to leave that open." So for the most part, the speaker told me, people wrote "surface things" such as "kind."

The facilitator asked people to go to different corners of the room and to share the most surprising thing from their cape. Then they were to switch corners and share something that was disturbing with the new set of people there. The speaker reported being "honest" in participating in the activity, and expressed remorse that people were upset as a result of what was written.

Feeling protective of the speaker, I responded, "She [the facilitator] should have said this is a first impression, this is what you have to work with when you meet new people." Perhaps responding to the implication that the facilitator was to blame, the speaker told me about writing an e-mail to the facilitator saying, "You can't leave people feeling so upset, not knowing how to deal with it." Apparently, this e-mail did not have much effect.

In this telling the speaker seemed to confess to writing at least some of the racial labels. (I do not know whether the speaker wrote all four of the racial labels I heard about, and I did not ask.) The speaker explained their intention to be honest, but not to be hurtful. Initially, I struggled over the question of whether the speaker really did not know that the labels would be hurtful, but asking this question did not take me very far. Instead I examined the telling of intentionality as an attempt to counter wrong assumptions of intentionality on the part of the anonymous writer(s). That is, I pay attention to the consequence of the speaker telling me what they meant to accomplish by writing those labels (without explicitly admitting that they had written the labels). I realized that I had assumed that the writer wanted to "call out" the recipients into behaving more responsibly as "people working on racism." It had not occurred to me before this telling that the writer would not have used those labels had they known that people would be hurt so badly.

I want to point out that this was the first telling I participated in that seemed to challenge the appropriateness of making the racial labels public, of the activity, or of the ways in which the aftermath was handled. The people I talked with seemed to take for granted that the labels were already in use, or at least, not surprising. They did not seem to challenge the writing of the racial labels, nor did they seem critical of the activity or the facilitator for organizing trouble. If there was any disapproval, it appeared to be directed toward the recipients themselves for overreacting to what may have seemed like obvious, if unpleasant, truths. Based on other conversations, I would even hazard that some people thought of the extreme reaction to the labeling as evidence of the "whiteness" of the organization as a place where racial truth was suppressed and distorted to fit particular ends and sensibilities. In the previous tellings, people seemed to take for granted that the writer intended to humble the recipients of the labels, at least enough to startle them into self-examination. In contrast, the confessional telling of the capes focuses on the anonymous writer and the facilitator as making serious mistakes without repairing the damage.

The speaker found out that being "honest" about race brought distressing consequences. Eight months later, the speaker still seemed to struggle with guilt, confusion, and frustration at having catalyzed a damaging chain of events and not knowing what to do about it. People assumed a negative intentionality that the speaker did not mean to convey. Worse, since the speaker never publicly owned up to writing the labels, the recipients might be blaming the wrong people for writing the labels, exacerbating the damage. This does not mean, of course, that the speaker believed the labels themselves wrong or inaccurate. But some things, it seemed, should remain private. A month later, the speaker told me that one should "keep quiet" until figuring out how to air one's concerns in a way that "gets things done."

I found out how the telling of the capes implies intentionality. It is all too easy for the people in the activity, the researcher listening to the story, and the reader of the paper to assume that the anonymous writer meant to degrade the recipients, with mutually unsatisfactory consequences for subsequent interaction.

Telling #4, May 25

By late April, race conversations, including "community building" efforts, had become a forum to exchange recriminations and to vent criticisms of the organization. Even staff members had a "blowup" in a staff meeting, although race was not on the agenda. After prolonged argument, an African American staff member left in tears after declaring, "Black people grow up being told that you shouldn't say certain things around White folks," and "I keep saying the same things and not getting heard." A few days later, the executive director put an end to race conversations in professional development meetings, asserting, "We've gotten too bogged down on ourselves, our relationships. We're all here because of our vision in driving us to this work. The expectation is not to be best friends with everyone. We lose focus on the movement." The implication was clear: people who talked about race were not doing their work.

Meetings immediately quieted, and for the next six weeks people worked on "the Resource Guide," a record of organizational know-how to be sold to other school reformers. While I was indignant that the executive director had shut down interns' efforts to repair the damage between them, the interns themselves did not seem to raise a fuss, publicly or privately. Some expressed relief; others, resignation. Interestingly, though, the quality of my interviews improved. Perhaps with far fewer public outlets for talking about race, race conversations simply went underground into private spaces, such as interviews and conversations with me.

Another of these outlets was a "focus group" held at the end of May. A Latino staff member in charge of the "Equity Strategy" interviewed a team—the team known for racial conflict—to find out how they viewed the organizational approach to equity. In the course of the conversation, the Filipina intern invoked the capes. Apparently, the Latino staff member, who was hired after the cape activity, had not heard about it. He asked about it, but the cryptic answer did not seem to help. He pushed for clarification, but the Filipina intern did not seem to want to explain what happened. Eventually the African American intern stepped in to tell the story. After the telling, nobody pursued race as a topic for discussion.

Prior to this excerpt, taken from detailed notes, the staff member asked the group, "Has your understanding of the equity strategy changed over the year?" After the other interns gave answers, the staff member turned to the fourth intern, the Filipina.

Filipina Intern: I think one of the PDs [professional development meetings] that was really good in terms of equity was Christie's on mentoring. It gave us a chance to practice. It shows how much equity PDs changed. We started with capes—

Staff Member: What was that?

Filipina Intern: We had to write our first impressions [of each other]. We went to, talking about situations in schools.

Staff Member: Was it useful, the capes?

Filipina Intern: I don't know, I was just pulling it out as an example.

Staff Member: As far as something you would take to your schools?

Filipina Intern: Nooo…

African-American Intern: We had these capes of butcher paper on our backs. We were supposed to write our first impressions on them. Carol [the facilitator] meant it to be racial but we didn't take it that way. People were like, [volume and pitch increasing] "What? You think I'm whitewashed? What? You think I talk white?"

Staff member: This was in the beginning of the year?

Filipina Intern: So we did activities like that where everybody was confused, where is this going. We tried to ask the leadership, what is this going to look like? But they were already thinking about what the equity strategy was. Then we moved into a community building thing. I don't know if that was useful at all, but we didn't touch on what was going on in schools. The thought partner [an organizational strategy for working with teachers] was more useful. And buy-in. But it was all surface level.

I will not do a full analysis here, but I want to point out that the capes were invoked to refer to—not necessarily to open up—a huge category of trouble. The Filipina intern seemed to assume that everyone already knew about the capes, or at least, would not ask her about them. The Latino staff member apparently did not know about the capes and pushed to find out, breaching social order a là Garfinkel (1963, 1967) and leading to various kinds of discomfiting talk approaching race, skirting around race, touching on race briefly, and eventually, backing away. The conversation began with the equity strategy and moved into professional development meetings, allowing for a brief mention of race in telling the story. Nobody took up the story, and race became bracketed off in talk about professional development activities and the equity strategy—right back to where the talk had started.

This opens the question of when the telling of racial trouble can occur. When tensions still run high, talking about past incidents can set off trouble. Of course, the story of the capes need not be told among people who were present at the scene, or when people know their interlocutors already know what happened. That the Latino staff member did not know the story provided an occasion for telling it. But the difficulty of telling the story, particularly in its context of a discussion on what worked and didn't work in addressing how race matters, points to the ongoing trouble between participants. The story went undeveloped as an example of something that didn't work racially among a group of people in which race continues to be an issue.

Given what we know about American racism it would be tempting to say that they avoided talking about race, or that the facilitator shirked his responsibilities in finding out about race and dealing with it. But I do not have the evidence to say these things. What I can say is that the telling itself was instructive as a lesson on negotiating the ambiguities of racialized interaction. In telling and not telling the story, people worked within the constraints of doing "talk about what worked" while dealing with ongoing tensions in the group. People got into trouble and got back out without igniting another explosion.

Telling #5, June 8

After the first few tellings, I knew to ask people directly about the cape activity. A few weeks later, near the end of the school year, I collected an account from a White participant, specifically, the one who had been labeled "white girl."

"I was probably one of the thick-headed people who didn't get it," she told me with a small laugh. "It was hard to do, with people you had been hanging out with for one and a half years." Having worked together for just over a year, ten of the eighteen interns had already formed strong friendships. She continued, "Or trying to think with Sandra, what was my first impression?" Sandra, a first-year Latina intern, was new to the organization at the time. "I wrote things like friendly, talks a lot."

I saw her body stiffen as she described taking off her cape and seeing "white girl" written across it, and seeing "really white" on her friend's cape. Then, a White intern who was respected as a leader among many of the second-year interns took charge of the situation. It seems that he asked the White interns to share their reactions with one another in front of the interns of color. As the storyteller mentioned the take-charge intern's name, the muscles in her face and body relaxed, and her voice dropped. "Robert says," and here she paused with a small smile, "in Robert-style, as he does, we're sitting in a circle, ‘How does that make you feel?'" Then she frowned again. "In that conversation, it almost takes some sort of negative thing. We are all in this organization that serves ELLs [English Language Learners]. Those are communities we serve. There's a negative vibe."

Near the end of the school year, as people were preparing to leave the organization, I found that there was still more to the story. Trouble had immediately been addressed, at least for White interns, when they had a chance to respond and process what had happened. On the one hand, it worked to some degree; nine months later, the storyteller smiled and relaxed when she recalled the White intern asking them to share their feelings. On the other hand, it didn't work at all. Nine months later, thinking of the capes made her quite upset. She seemed to suggest with her assertion, "We are all in this organization that serves ELLs," that White people in the organization should not be challenged racially given their commitment to serving non-White children. (I specify White people, since she did not mention that others had been labeled as "whitewashed" and "talks white.") Of course, not everyone agreed that working for the organization was enough to protect White people from racial challenge.

With the fifth telling I found out that there had been an effort to explore and share the responses of White interns to what had happened. I did not hear any mention of a discussion for people of color to talk about the labels "whitewashed" and "talks white," or to discuss the frustration of seeing the conversation shut down as soon as people expressed distress. Nor did I hear of any successful communication between those surprised by the labels and those who were not. Whatever discussion took place immediately after the cape activity seemed only to address the distress "caused" by what was written on the capes—not the tensions already at work, nor even the reactions to the distress. Perhaps more importantly, neither did subsequent conversations. Months later, people continued to invoke the cape activity in complaining about race.


The story of the capes could have been told differently, as an amusing anecdote, or as the beginning of a larger narrative on racial progress in the organization. A comment written on an evaluation form from the day of the cape activity also hints at the possibilities: "I liked that more ‘white' voices were heard today." Perhaps people could have learned to listen across difference, as proponents of race conversations may claim. Perhaps this would have been a paper about how people figured out, after a rocky start, how to move through difficult moments in race talk.

Instead, people told the capes to illustrate and explain ongoing racial trouble. The African American intern seemed to tell the story to show the difficulty of getting people—White people and people of color—to engage deeply with race. People shut down after being confronted and did not seem to recover. That the intern's teammates went to a high-ranking White leader to complain about her and her African American supervisor does not seem surprising in the context of the capes. The team leader—the person ostensibly responsible for trying to work out conflicts before going to higher-ups—was the person labeled as "white girl" in the cape activity. She, like other White participants, did not seem to want to talk to me about the capes, perhaps because it was still too painful. The "negative vibe" had never dissipated.

The activity made concretely visible what cannot be said about race, how it cannot be said, and the consequences of saying it. Racial trouble was told through anonymous and ambiguous messages literally written behind people's backs. People could not tell one another in face-to-face interaction that they came across as white, whitewashed, or racially aggressive and what this meant to them. People could not explicitly say how and when race was made to matter in their interactions with one another. Saying the unsayable traumatized the recipients without addressing the racial tensions already at work, and had heavy consequences for subsequent interaction. Months later, people continued to talk about the capes aggrievedly, regretfully, even remorsefully.

That people continued to complain about the capes months later—and only in private conversation—reflects much more than what happened in the scene. It also suggests the continuation of their mis-education into race. People did not simply talk about the capes as the problem. They talked about the capes as an example of underlying and ongoing problems: how race is handled in organizational life, and how to negotiate race in interaction with one another. They had to figure out what can and cannot be said publicly, how, and when; how to respond to trouble, including recrimination, insinuation, and justification (whether "real" or "imagined"); and how to get out of trouble without making things worse. Their (mis-) education brought them back to where they started: restricting race talk to private spaces.


1 I am using transformation in the interactional sense, as used by other authors in this issue, to refer to ways people try to change one another, and resist those efforts. While this can sometimes lead to radical social change such as the empowerment of disenfranchised people, the eradication of social injustices, and the resolution of complex social conflict, it often does not. "Transformation," as I will show, can result in consequences that appear negative, positive, or both.

2 The reader may notice that at times I capitalize the word "White" and at times I do not. Given that the analytical dilemma of when to capitalize the term has not been adequately addressed, I have developed my own system. The federal racial category of "White" serves an "empty" category, as a descriptive term that does not carry the negative meanings implied in the pejorative terms "really white" and "whitewashed." When I identify specific individuals as "White" in relation to others as "people of color" or "African American," I capitalize the word. When I refer to practices of identification, such as labeling someone as a "white girl," I do not capitalize the term. However, the lines between pejorative and descriptive, racial identity and practices of racial identification are not always clear.

3 People in the organization expressed multiple concerns about the narrow definition of the achievement gap: the problematic use of standardized test scores to measure educational achievement and improvement; the focus on students' "deficits"; the failure to consider the incredible diversity within the categories of "Latino," "people of color," and "Asian American"; and the categorical exclusion of all Asian American and Pacific Islander students from organizational concern, particularly children of refugees from Southeast Asia.

4 I do not mean to imply that I occupied a "neutral" position, if such a position could exist in such a highly charged setting. Certainly some people in the organization saw me as taking sides in various instances of "racial" conflict, but without consistently siding with either "White people" or "people of color." If pressed, I would say that I was "ambiguously raced," and I can state with confidence that nearly everyone in the organization continually perceived me as consorting with the "wrong people," since each person I talked with, from one perspective or another, was "wrong."

5 See Wieder & Pratt, 1990a,1990b.

6 I am not certain who was labeled as "talks white." Based on people's descriptions of this particular staff member as unable to code-switch, that is, to adjust his speech to different social situations, I understood that he was regarded as "talking white."


Alim, H. S. (2005). Hearing what's not said and missing what is: Black language in public space. S. Kiesling & C. B. Paulston (Eds.) Intercultural discourse and communication: the essential readings, 180–197. Malden, MA: Blackwell.

Anzaldúa, G. (1987). Borderlands/la frontera: the new mestiza. San Francisco: Spinsters/Aunt Lute Book Company.

Blauner, B. (1994). Talking past each other: Black and white languages of race. F. L. Pincus & H. J. Ehrlich (Ed.) Race and ethnic conflict: Contending views on prejudice, discrimination, and ethnoviolence, 30–40. Boulder, CO: Westview Press.

Cochran-Smith, M. (2000). Blind vision: Unlearning racism in teacher education. Harvard Educational Review, 70(9) 157–190.

Derman-Sparks, L. & Phillips, C. B. (1997). Teaching/learning anti-racism: A developmental approach. New York: Teachers College Press.

Economic Policy Institute. (2002). EPI Issue guide: Living wage. Washington, DC. Retrieved on June 15, 2005, at http://www.epinet.org/content.cfm/issueguides_livingwage_livingwage

Favret-Saada, J. (1977). Deadly words: Witchcraft in the Bocage. London: Cambridge University Press.

Fine, M. & Weis, L. (2003). Silenced voices and extraordinary conversations: Re-imagining schools. New York: Teachers College Press.

Garfinkel, H. (1963). A conception of, and experiments with, "trust" as a condition of stable concerted actions. O. J. Harvey (Ed.) Motivation and social interaction. , 187–238. New York: The Ronald Press.

Garfinkel, H. (1967). Studies in ethnomethodology. Oxford: Polity Press.

Gibel Azoulay, K. (1997). Black, Jewish, interracial: It's not the color of your skin, but the race of your kin, and other myths of identity. Durham: Duke University Press.

Gregory, S. (1994). We've been down this road already, S. Gregory & R. Sanjek (Eds.) Race. New Brunswick, NJ: Rutgers University Press.

Guinier, L., & Torres, G. (2002). The miner's canary: enlisting race, resisting power, transforming democracy. Cambridge, MA: Harvard University Press.

Howard, G. (1999). We can't teach what we don't know: White teachers, multiracial schools. New York: Teachers College Press.

Hu-DeHart, E. (1994). P.C. and the politics of multiculturalism in higher education. S. Gregory & R. Sanjek (Eds.) Race. New Brunswick: Rutgers University Press.

Jacobs, B. (1999). Race manners: Navigating the minefield between black and white Americans. New York: Arcade Publishing.

Jennings, J. (2001). A critique of race dialogues and debates in the United States. C. Stokes, T. Meléndez, & G. Rhodes-Reed (Eds.) Race in 21st century America. East Lansing, MI: Michigan State University Press.

Labov, T. (1990). Ideological themes in reports of interracial conflict. A. Grimshaw (Ed.) Conflict talk: Sociolinguistic investigations of arguments, 139–159. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.

Lawrence, C. (2005). Forbidden conversations: On race, privacy, and community (A continuing conversation with John Ely on racism and democracy). Yale Law Journal, 114(6) 1353–1404.

Lewis, A. (2003). Race in the schoolyard: Negotiating the color line in classrooms and communities. New Brunswick, NJ: Rutgers University Press.

McDermott, R., & Varenne, H. (1995). Culture as disability. Anthropology & Education Quarterly, 26(3), 324–348.

Morrison, T. (1992). Playing in the dark: whiteness and the literary imagination. Cambridge: Harvard University Press.

Pollock, M. (2004). Colormute: Race talk dilemmas in an American school. Princeton: Princeton University Press.

Schegloff, E. (1991). Reflections on talk and social structure. D. Boden & D. Zimmerman (Eds.), Talk and social structure, 44–70. Cambridge: Polity Press.

Sleeter, C. (1993). How white teachers construct race. C. McCarthy & W. Crichlow (Eds.), Race, identity and representation in education. New York: Routledge.

Tagaki, D. (1992). Retreat from race: Asian-American admissions and racial politics. New Brunswick, NJ: Rutgers University Press.

Tanaka, G. (2003). The intercultural campus: transcending culture and power in American higher education. New York: Peter Lang.

Tatum, B. D. 1997. "Why are all the Black kids sitting together in the cafeteria?" and other conversations about race. New York: Basic Books.

Taylor, C., Appiah, K. A., Habermas, J., Rockefeller, S. C., Walzer, M., & Wolf, S. (1994). Multiculturalism: examining the politics of recognition. Princeton, NJ: Princeton University Press.

Wieder, D. L. (1974). Language and social reality: The telling of the convict code. Paris: Mouton.

Wieder, D. L., & Pratt, S. (1990a). On being a recognizable Indian among Indians. D. Carbaugh (Ed.), Cultural communication and intercultural contact. Hillsdale, New Jersey: Lawrence Erlbaum Associates, Publishers.

Wieder, D. Lawrence & Pratt, S. (1990b). On the occasioned and situated character of members' questions and answers: Reflections on the question, "Is he or she a real Indian?" D. Carbaugh (Ed.), Cultural Communication and Intercultural Contact. Hillsdale, New Jersey: Lawrence Erlbaum Associates, Publishers.

Cite This Article as: Teachers College Record Volume 109 Number 7, 2007, p. 1725-1746

http://www.tcrecord.org ID Number: 13821, Date Accessed: 7/10/2007 1:46:11 PM

Public schools grapple with Muslim prayer: A San Diego school adjusts its schedule to accommodate Muslim worship.

By Randy Dotinga | Correspondent of The Christian Science Monitor

When afternoon recess comes at an elementary school on the outskirts of San Diego, some students rush out for a quick game of hopscotch, while others gather in a room for Muslim worship. Like a growing number of school districts around the country, San Diego's is changing its ways to meet the needs of its Islamic students. Here, a controversy with constitutional overtones erupted: In accommodating Muslim students, is the school unfairly promoting religion?

The school's policy "presumes that Christians are less religious and less inspired to worship and praise the Lord and come together," says Brad Dacus, president of the Pacific Justice Institute. He is asking the school district to set up special rooms where Christians can pray, too.

This outcry, and others like it from conservative commentators and attorneys, suggest that the whole matter may land in court. Potentially at issue is to what extent actions taken by a public school to accommodate special religious needs of some students might require similar allowances for other students.

For now, about 100 students in the Arabic language program at Carver Elementary School are finishing their first year under a daily schedule that gives them a 15-minute recess period in the afternoon, about an hour after lunch. Many of the students are Muslim and transferred from an Arabic-language charter school that folded. Carver Elementary revised its schedule so the students would have the option to pray at the specific times ordained by their religion, says attorney Brent North, who represents the school district. A teacher is present to watch the praying children but cannot lead or take part in the observance.

A question of faith?

Five daily prayers are "part of our fundamental faith," explains Akram Shami, a retired bank security manager who volunteers at the Islamic Center of Southern California in Los Angeles. "We pray to God, we worship God, and we recite verses from the Koran." One prayer is typically performed at specific times around noon or 1 p.m., depending on the time of year, although Muslims differ on the mandated prayer times.

At some public schools, students leave class momentarily or wait to pray until they get home. Mr. Shami says his faith allows prayers to be combined at a later time if necessary.

The San Diego district took special action regarding the timing of recess because "the Muslim faith requires specificity of prayer obligations ... that most other religions do not," Mr. North says. He denies reports that a new recess was added specifically to address the religious needs of the Muslim students.

"As a constitutional law attorney, I don't care whether kids do or don't pray in schools. I don't care to whom or how they pray," North says. But he adds that he does have to make sure that religious requests are treated in a neutral way.

The 133,000-student school district knows more than most about the hazards of making the wrong decision. In 1993, a federal court ordered the district to allow students to engage in religious activities during lunchtime.

The First Amendment seeks to balance an individual's right to practice one's religion without undue government interference while at the same time barring the government from endorsing or favoring any particular faith. In addition, in 2000, Congress approved the Religious Land Use and Institutionalized Persons Act, which requires religious accommodations in many instances.

Echoes around the nation

Other school districts have faced dilemmas as the number of Muslims in the US has grown. In 2005, a suburban Dallas school district allowed Muslim students to leave class to pray after it was confronted by the Becket Fund for Religious Liberty, a bipartisan organization. "Teachers panic whenever they hear the word religion," says fund president Kevin "Seamus" Hasson, and some "think their job is to protect kids from secondhand faith."

Schools elsewhere in the country have made decisions quietly, such as allowing Muslim students to avoid strenuous exercise while they're fasting. In Dearborn, Mich., schools offer students the option of eating hot dogs and chicken nuggets made with meat that has been slaughtered in accordance with Islamic law. The Dearborn district, where at least 1 in 3 students is of Middle Eastern descent – some of which are Muslim – also schedules two days off during the Islamic holiday of Ramadan.

That may sound unusual, "but most Americans don't think about the fact that schools naturally accommodate Christians," says Lisa Soronen, an attorney with the National School Boards Association. "There's no school on Sunday, and we get days off for most of the major Christian holidays."

Ms. Soronen, who's gotten more questions about Islam and schools over the past two or three years, said it's unclear how courts might react to Muslim prayer rooms, because judges haven't addressed that particular issue.

Left-leaning groups like the American Civil Liberties Union have remained silent so far on the San Diego situation, suggesting that any legal action may come from the right. "The line is when the government comes in and says, 'We really think you ought to pray,' " says Mr. Hasson.

from the July 12, 2007 edition - http://www.csmonitor.com/2007/0712/p01s03-ussc.html

The Christian Monitor

RA Practical End to Racial Diversity in Schools

Claire Smrekar — July 16, 2007

On June 28, 2007 the Court essentially eliminated any practical (if not legal) approach to reducing racial isolation in schools by asserting that such efforts equated to "racial discrimination," in the words of Chief Justice John Roberts. The Chief Justice was neither narrow nor nuanced in a 5-4 majority opinion that asserted, "The way to stop discrimination on the basis of race is to stop discriminating on the basis of race." Thus, the final hammer blow was struck to the hundreds of districts nationwide that currently use students' race in student assignment and parent choice plans.

How the Court got it wrong

In sum, the districts failed to "justify the extreme means they have chosen – discriminating among individual students based on race…" The majority opinion suggests that race could be taken into consideration by districts like Louisville if race were one of many considered student factors (and not the only factor), including other background characteristics, special talents and special needs. This was the decision rule applied by Justice O'Connor in her majority opinion in the landmark 2003 University of Michigan Law School admissions case known as Grutter. In other words, Louisville was using race in a singular, mechanical, and unconstitutional way, according to the majority. To pass constitutional muster, students must be considered individually and holistically in any assignment plan that uses race and is pegged to the aims of racial diversity. The problem with this reasoning is simple. This may be possible in a law school (or in some colleges) but surely impossible in most urban school districts that must assign tens of thousands of students every year across up to (and sometime more than) 100 schools. Besides, the "special talents" that can be found in a five year old are quite different from those which can be discerned from a 22-year old applicant to a law school. If this individualized review process were possible under current conditions and resources, wouldn't districts ideally adopt or propose this policy as a plank of their diversity aims? But this approach is surely not possible or practical.

The problem of practicality

Justice Kennedy, in a concurring opinion that underscores that a district may consider it a "compelling interest to achieve a diverse student population," offers race neutral mechanisms designed to achieve the aims of racial diversity. Now the NAACP and other groups optimistically assert that Kennedy's controlling opinion keeps racial diversity aims viable for districts nationwide. I respectfully dissent. Kennedy's "remedies" point to the problem of practicality and the probable demise of the use of race in school policies designed to promote racial diversity – a critical irony in the aftermath of this decision.

Kennedy proposes the following possible remedies to achieve racial diversity (and chastises Louisville for failing to consider them): 1) devising student attendance zones to encompass racially defined/segregated neighborhoods; 2) building new schools in racially mixed neighborhoods or in areas that straddle racially identifiable neighborhoods; and 3) developing special or unique programs. The problems (or challenges) associated with these approaches are well known and well understood. The first remedy is often associated with cross-town busing plans that collect students from across racially segregated city neighborhoods and deposit them at a single school; this is antithetical to most parents' priorities of close proximity between school and home. The cost of busing is extreme and the burden almost always born disproportionately by African American families. The second proposal bumps up against the reality of scarce resources for building new schools on real estate other than those parcels priced at the lowest end or in the least desirable sections of town. This could work if only it were practical. Third, special programs as conceived by Justice Kennedy already exist in magnet schools (and charter schools) but the patterns of resegregation are clear and compelling in districts like Charlotte-Mecklenburg that were once desegregation success stories but are now obligated to use race-neutral admissions in these choice schools. Why the resegregation pattern? Parents tend to choose schools that are closest to home (indeed, this is the "right" the Louisville parent sued for); patterns of housing segregation produce patterns of segregated neighborhood schools under these realities. Another reality check: white parents tend to pull their children out of schools when African American student enrollment tips a bit beyond 40%. This is the so-called "white flight" phenomenon well documented across numerous research studies on school desegregation over the past several decades.

The compelling interest

Does race matter 50 years after the landmark Brown v. Board of Education decision? Brown struck down the use of race as a mechanism to segregate white and African American children. On June 28, the majority struck down the use of race as a mechanism to integrate white and African American (and Latino) children. The Court's majority saw race, period. The Louisville and Seattle districts (and hundreds of others across the nation) saw the same mechanism – use of students' race -- but a radically different goal: to integrate or in other words, avoid racial segregation in schools.

The districts' aim is based on fundamental understandings, derived from decades of educational research regarding the social and academic benefits of racially diverse schools. In sum: students who attend racially integrated schools are far more likely in adulthood to live in racially diverse neighborhoods and to work in racially diverse settings. Social interactions formed as young students in elementary, middle and high schools form the basis for cross-racial interactions and friendships later in adult life. The dissent points to this reality in a scathing rebuke to the majority opinion that indicates racial diversity is important in law school settings or higher education, only (affirming the 2003 Grutter opinion for colleges and universities). A cynic could conclude that this majority believes racial diversity is crucial for 20-year olds but not for 10-year olds.

The academic benefits of diversity are evidenced in the achievement gains for African American students who attend integrated schools. The story of Brown is the impressively large gains made by African American students following the dismantling of segregated systems in the 1970s and 1980s – the height of desegregation activity in U.S. schools nationwide.

But what is perhaps most paramount in this discussion is what occurs in the absence of racial diversity plans. This is the problem – and reality -- of inequity that is at the epicenter of school desegregation policies. Segregated African American schools tend to reflect the concentrated poverty of the urban (or some rural) neighborhoods in which these students live. In other words, racially isolated schools for African Americans students usually translate into isolated, high poverty schools in which there is a higher proportion of inexperienced teachers, a higher turnover among teachers and students, more limited curriculum and educational resources, lower average achievement and higher dropout rates. Thus, school integration polices not only serve democratic aims by creating conditions of civility across diverse groups of young students, these programs may, under admittedly ideal conditions, advance students along a pathway of higher achievement, attainment, and expanded employment opportunities.

If not race, then class?

In response to a flurry of legal opinions in the past decade hostile to the use of race except under the most "narrowly tailored" conditions, some districts have moved to using socio-economic status as a mechanism for maintaining diversity in schools. Wake County, North Carolina is a notable example, in which students are assigned to schools based upon a family's social class. Specifically, poverty rates (measured by eligibility for the federal free and reduced lunch program) are capped at 40% at every Wake County school (some schools have a higher rate, but not many). Students are assigned (and re-assigned) to schools to maintain this mix of kids across socio-economic backgrounds. This policy avoids the problems of concentrated poverty noted earlier and achieves racial diversity goals (because race and class are closely linked). In the aftermath of the Court's prohibition on the use of race, some scholars and district officials are now pointing to the use of social class as a mechanism to achieve the diversity goals anchored to race-based district integration policies. Will it work? The problem – again, the reality – of this approach is that it depends on the density of poverty in a district, or simply put, the percentage of poor kids in the district. Wake County includes Raleigh and the Research Triangle. The socio-economic mix sits at the higher end of the income spectrum. Thus, the district' poverty rate, as measured by the eligibility rate for the free and reduced lunch program, is a relatively low 24%, making the target of the 40% cap attainable. In most urban school districts, the rate is much higher, rendering the aim of socio-economic integration more of a dream than a reality. No, class-based student assignment is not a panacea for this problem.

Moving forward in the dark

What priorities will shape school policies as districts react to this end to race-conscious desegregation plans? Should cities revisit a renewed focus upon housing policies that promote residentially integrated or mixed-income developments? In reality, that's often challenging (given zoning, space, residents' preferences) and certainly long-term. What about reshaping school districts in terms of the way students are assigned and parents choose? What about a market of smaller and distinctive schools in each school district in which parents choose based upon their preferences? Would this arrangement "naturally" shape a set of diverse (racially and socio-economically) educational environments for students? Well, no, for the reasons outlined earlier, but what if districts adopted the Grutter law school admissions-constitutionally permissible approach to admissions policies: the individualized and holistic review? This "open enrollment" approach could establish the smaller administrative units required for the individual review of each student to each school, considering race as one (not the) factor among other background characteristics – functioning like a district of magnet and charter schools without any student assignment plans. This reflects Justice Kennedy's suggested alternative for a race-neutral approach to reach a diversity-conscious goal. Are the resources available for this kind of plan in most districts? Answer: no. But this is a clarion call for new levels of will and capacity. No one can know now what is the most efficacious approach to achieving the aim of diversity in schooling under these newly drawn constraints. Only one thing is certain on this summer morning in 2007 after the most important Supreme Court ruling on race and education in over 50 years: the "color-blind" Constitution that the majority so forcefully foisted upon the districts of Louisville and Seattle will shape the lives of all school children well beyond the classrooms and corridors they occupy this fall.

Cite This Article as: Teachers College Record, Date Published: July 16, 2007

http://www.tcrecord.org ID Number: 14549, Date Accessed: 7/24/2007 4:06:46 PM


Unmasking the myth of the model minority

By Benji Chang and Wayne Au

Have you ever sat next to an Asian student in class and wondered how she managed to consistently get straight A's while you struggled to maintain a B-minus average?

-from Top of the Class: How Asian Parents Raise High Achievers-and How You Can Too

In January 1966, William Petersen penned an article for The New York Times Magazine entitled, "Success Story: Japanese American Style." In it, he praised the Japanese-American community for its apparent ability to successfully assimilate into mainstream American culture, and literally dubbed Japanese Americans a "model minority" - the first popular usage of the term.

By the 1980s, Newsweek, The New Republic, Fortune, Parade, U.S. News and World Report, and Time all had run articles on the subject of Asian-American success in schools and society, and the Myth of the Model Minority was born. The Myth of the Model Minority asserts that, due to their adherence to traditional, Asian cultural values, Asian-American students are supposed to be devoted, obedient to authority, respectful of teachers, smart, good at math and science, diligent, hard workers, cooperative, well-behaved, docile, college-bound, quiet, and opportunistic.

Top of the Class (quoted above) is a perfect modern example. Published in 2005, the authors claim to offer readers 17 "secrets" that Asian parents supposedly use to develop high school graduates who earn A-pluses and head to Ivy League colleges. It's a marketing concept built purely on the popular belief in the Myth of the Model Minority.

However, in both of our experiences as public school teachers and education activists, we've seen our share of Asian-American students do poorly in school, get actively involved in gangs, drop out, or exhibit any number of other indicators of school failure not usually associated with "model minorities."

A critical unmasking of this racist myth is needed because it both negatively affects the classroom lives of Asian American students and contributes to the justification of race and class inequality in schools and society.

Masking Diversity

On the most basic level, the Myth of the Model Minority masks the diversity that exists within the Asian-American community. The racial category of "Asian" is itself emblematic of the problem. Asia contains nearly four billion people and over 50 countries, including those as diverse as Turkey, Japan, India, the Philippines, and Indonesia.

The racial category of "Asian" is also historically problematic. Similar to those categories used to name peoples from Africa and the Americas, the definition of Asia as a continent (and race) and division of Asians into various nations was developed to serve the needs of European and U.S. colonialism and imperialism. The category of Asian gets even fuzzier in the context of the United States, since there are over 50 ways to officially qualify as an Asian American according to government standards. Pacific Islanders and "mixed race" Asians are also regularly squished together under the banner of Asian or Asian Pacific Islander (which, out of respect for the sovereignty of Pacific peoples, we refuse to do here).

Masking the Class Divide

The Myth of the Model Minority, however, masks another form of diversity-that of economic class division. As Jamie Lew explains in her 2007 book, Asian Americans in Class, there are increasing numbers of working-class Korean-American students in New York City performing more poorly in schools than their middle-class counterparts.

Similarly, Vivian Louie found class-based differences in her study of Chinese-American students. Her research indicated that middle-class Chinese-American mothers tended to have more time, resources, and educational experience to help their children through school and into college than mothers from working-class Chinese-American families, who had longer work hours, lower-paying jobs, and lower levels of education. These class differences are sometimes rooted in specific immigrant histories and are connected to the 1965 Immigration Act. The Act not only opened up the United States to large numbers of Asian immigrants, but, among a handful of other criteria, it granted preference to educated professionals and those committing to invest at least $40,000 in a business once they arrived.

As a consequence, some Asian immigrants, even those within the same ethnic community, enter the United States with high levels of education and/or with economic capital attained in their countries of origin. Others enter the United States with little or no education or money at all. These educational and financial heritages make an important difference in how well children gain access to educational resources in the United States. In other words, whether we are talking about African-American, white, Latina/o, indigenous, or "model minority" Asian-American students, the first rule of educational inequality still applies: Class matters.

Masking Ethnic Inequity

To add to the complexity of Asian-American diversity, many of the class differences amongst Asian Americans also correlate with ethnic differences. According to the 2000 census, 53.3 percent of Cambodians, 59.6 percent of Hmong, 49.6 percent of Laotians, and 38.1 percent of Vietnamese over 25 years of age have less than a high school education. In contrast, 13.3 percent of Asian Indians, 12.7 percent of Filipinos, 8.9 percent of Japanese, and 13.7 percent of Koreans over 25 years of age have less than a high school education.

These educational disparities are particularly striking considering that, for instance, 37.8 percent of Hmong, almost 30 percent of Cambodians, and 18.5 percent of Laotians have incomes below the poverty line (compared to 12.4 percent of the total U.S population). Indeed, the 2000 census reveals relatively consistent high education rates and income amongst South Asian, Korean, and Chinese Americans, and relatively low education rates and low income amongst Cambodian, Lao, and Hmong Americans. Hence, the Myth of the Model Minority serves to obscure the struggles of poor or "under-educated" families working to gain a decent education for their children.

Masking Economic Circumstance

One of the most cited statistics proving the Myth of the Model minority is that Asian Americans even out earn whites in income. What is obscured in this "fact" is that it is only true when we compare Asian American household income to white household income, and the reality is that Asian-Americans make less per person compared to whites. Statistically, the average household size for Asian Americans is 3.3 people, while for whites it is 2.5 people.

Consequently, Asian-American households are more likely than white households to have more than one income earner, and almost twice as likely to have three income earners. When we take these issues into account, Asian-American individuals earn $2,000 on average less than white individuals.

The statistics on Asian-American income are further skewed upward when we look at the economies of the states where the majority live. The three states with the highest proportion of Asian Americans, Hawai'i, California, and New York, all have median income levels in the top third of states. This means that, regardless of statistically higher household incomes, the high cost of living in states with large Asian-American populations guarantees that Asian Americans, on average, are more likely to have less disposable income and lower living standards than whites.

Masking Racism

While the above statistics may be remarkable in the face of the Myth of the Model Minority, they also point to another serious problem: The myth is regularly used as a social and political wedge against blacks, Latina/os, and other racial groups in the United States.

The racist logic of the model minority wedge is simple. If, according to the myth, Asian Americans are academically and socially successful due to particular cultural or racial strengths, then lower test scores, lower GPAs, and lower graduation rates of other groups like African Americans and Latina/os can be attributed to their cultural or racial weaknesses.

Or, as one high school guidance counselor in Stacey J. Lee's book, Unraveling the Model Minority Stereotype, puts it, "Asians like... M.I.T., Princeton. They tend to go to good schools... I wish our blacks would take advantage of things instead of sticking to sports and entertainment."

The Myth of the Model Minority also causes Asian-American students to struggle with the racist expectations the myth imposes upon them. An Asian-American high school student in Lee's book explains, "When you get bad grades, people look at you really strangely because you are sort of distorting the way they see an Asian."

Unfortunately, some East and South Asian Americans uphold the myth because it allows them to justify their own relative educational and social success in terms of individual or cultural drive, while simultaneously allowing them to distance themselves from what they see as African-American, Latina/o, indigenous, and Southeast-Asian-American educational failure.

As Jamie Lew observes, the Myth of the Model Minority "...attributes academic success and failure to individual merit and cultural orientation, while underestimating important structural and institutional resources that all children need in order to achieve academically." In doing so, the Myth of the Model Minority upholds notions of racial and cultural inferiority of other lower achieving groups, as it masks the existence of racism and class exploitation in this country.

The Challenge of Educating Asian America

One of the difficulties of unmasking the Myth of the Model Minority is that the diversity of the Asian American experience poses substantial challenges, particularly in relation to how race, culture, and ethnicity are typically considered by educators.

For instance, Asian-American students challenge the categories commonly associated with the black-brown-white spectrum of race. Many Asian American students follow educational pathways usually attributed to white, middle-class, suburban students, while many others follow pathways usually attributed to black and Latina/o, working-class, urban students.

Other Asian-American groups challenge typical racial categories in their own identities. Pilipinos,1 for instance, don't quite fit into the typical categories of South, East, or Southeast Asian, nor do they quite fit the category of Pacific Islander. Further, some argue that Pilipinos have a lineage that is more closely related to Latina/os because they were in fact colonized by Spain. Consequently, because of their particular circumstances, many Pilipinos more strongly identify with being brown than anything else. As another example, many high-achieving, middle-class South Asians consider themselves "brown," especially after the discrimination endured after 9/11.

Asian-American students also challenge typical notions of immigration and language by blurring the typical dichotomies of native language vs. English and immigrant vs. American-born. Some Southeast Asian refugees, like those from Laos, may develop fluency in multiple languages and attend universities, even as their parents are low-income and do not speak English. On the other hand, there are groups of Pilipinos who grow up highly Americanized, who have been taught English their whole lives, but who have some of the highest dropout and suicide rates.

Asian-American students also challenge popularly accepted multicultural teaching strategies because they are often a numerical minority in classrooms, and multicultural teaching strategies designed to meet the needs of classroom majorities can leave out the culturally specific needs of Asian-American students. These can include the language acquisition needs of students who come from character-based languages (e.g., Chinese, Japanese), social and ideological differences of students from majority Muslim nations (e.g., Pakistan, Indonesia), and psychological issues that emerge from student families traumatized by U.S. intervention/war policies (e.g., Korea, Vietnam, Thailand).

From the Fukienese-Chinese student in an urban Philadelphia classroom with mostly Black or Latino/a students, to the Hmong student who sits with two or three peers in a mostly white school in rural Wisconsin, to the Pilipino student in a San Diego suburb with predominantly Pilipino classmates and some white peers, Asian-American youth do not fit neatly into the typical boxes of our educational system.

Unmasking the Myth In Our Classrooms

Despite the diversity and complexity inherent in working with Asian-American populations, there are many things that educators can do to challenge the Myth of the Model Minority. Similar to other communities of color, effective steps include recruiting more educators from Asian-American backgrounds, promoting multilingual communication in instruction and parent involvement, and developing relationships between parents, community groups, and schools. Within the classroom, teachers can make use of several strategies to counter the Myth of the Model Minority in their own classrooms. The following list offers a starting point to address the realities of Asian-American students' lives.

Don't automatically assume that your Asian-American students are "good" students (or "bad," for that matter), and get to know them.

Personally get to know students and their family's practices, which widely vary from home to home, despite their "membership" in specific ethnic or linguistic groups. Start by researching the specific histories and cultures of the students in your classroom to better understand the historical and political contexts of their communities. Also, bring the lives of all of your students, Asian Americans included, into your classroom. Have them consider, reflect, and write about how their home lives and experiences intersect with their school lives and experiences. Develop strategies to personally engage with students and their communities, whether through lunchtime interactions or visits to their homes, community centers, and cultural or political events. While we recognize the limited resources of all teachers, learning about your Asian-American students and their communities takes the same energy and commitment as learning to work with any specific group of students.

Rethink how you interpret and act upon the silence of Asian-American students in your classroom.

Asian-American student silence can mean many things, from resistance to teachers, to disengagement from work, to a lack of understanding of concepts, to thoughtful engagement and consideration, to insecurity speaking English, to insecurity in their grasp of classroom content. Rather than assume that Asian-American student silence means any one thing, assess the meaning of silence by personally checking in with the student individually.

Teach about unsung Asian-American heroes.

Teachers might include the stories of real-life woman warriors Yuri Kochiyama and Grace Lee Boggs, for instance. Kochiyama has been involved in a range of efforts, from working closely with Malcolm X in Harlem, to Puerto Rican sovereignty, to freeing political prisoners like Mumia Abu Jamal. Boggs' efforts have included work with famed Marxist Humanist Raya Dunayevskaya, organized labor, and the Detroit Freedom Summer schools. Or perhaps teach about Ehren Watada, the first commissioned officer to publicly refuse to go to war in Iraq because he believes the war is illegal and would make him a party to war crimes. Learning about heroes like these can help students broaden the range of what it means to be Asian American.

Highlight ways in which Asian Americans challenge racism and stereotypes.

Schools should challenge racist caricatures of Asians and Asian Americans, including viewing them as penny-pinching convenience store owners, religious terrorists, kung fu fighting mobsters, academic super-nerds, and exotic, submissive women. One way to do this is to introduce students to stereotype-defying examples, such as Kochiyama, Boggs, and Watada. There are also many youth and multi-generational organizations of Asian Americans fighting for social justice in the U.S. These include Khmer Girls in Action (KGA, Long Beach), and the Committee Against Anti-Asian Violence/Organizing Asian Communities (CAAAV, New York). These organizations are extremely important examples of how youth can be proactive in challenging some of the issues that affect our communities, and their work challenges the stereotypes of Asian Americans as silent and obedient.

Illustrate historical, political, and cultural intersections between Asian Americans and other groups.

There are historical and current examples of shared experiences between Asian Americans and other communities. For instance, teachers could highlight the key role of Asian Americans in collective struggles for social justice in the United States. Possible examples include: Philip Veracruz and other Pilipino farm workers who were the backbone and catalyst for the labor campaigns of Cesar Chavez and the United Farm Workers in the late 1960s and early 1970s; Chinese students and families who challenged the racism of public schools in the Lau v. Nichols case of the 1970s that provided the legal basis for guaranteeing the rights of English language learners and bilingual education; Asian-American college students who in 1967-1969 organized with Black, Latina/o, and Native Americans at San Francisco State University in a multiethnic struggle to establish the first ethnic studies program in the nation, united under the banner of "Third World Liberation."

Weave the historical struggles, culture, and art of Asian-American communities into your classroom.

As part of a curriculum that is grounded in the lives of all of our students, teachers can highlight Asian-American history, culture, and art in their classroom practices to help Asian-American students develop not only positive self-identity, but also empathy between Asian Americans and other racial, cultural, or ethnic groups. Teachers might use novels by Carlos Bulosan, John Okada, Nora Okja Keller, Lê Thi Diem Thúy, Jessica Hagedorn, Jhumpa Lahiri, or Shawn Wong; poetry by Lawson Inada, Li-Young Li, Marilyn Chin, Nick Carbón, or Sesshu Foster; spoken word by Reggie Cabico, Ishle Park, Beau Sia, or I Was Born With Two Tongues; hip-hop music by Blues Scholars, Skim, Native Guns, Himalayan Project, or Kuttin Kandi; and history texts by Ron Takaki, Sucheng Chan, Peter Kwong, or Gary Okihiro.

When it comes to dealing with Asian Americans in education, it is all too common for people to ask, "What's wrong with the Myth of the Model Minority? Isn't it a positive stereotype?" What many miss is that there are no "positive" stereotypes, because by believing in a "positive" stereotype, as, admittedly, even many Asian Americans do, we ultimately give credence to an entire way of thinking about race and culture, one that upholds the stereotypic racial and cultural inferiority of African Americans and Latina/os and maintains white supremacy.

The Myth of the Model Minority not only does a disservice to Asian-American diversity and identity, it serves to justify an entire system of race and class inequality. It is perhaps for this reason, above all else, that the Myth of the Model Minority needs to be unmasked in our classrooms and used to challenge the legacies of racism and other forms of inequality that exist in our schools and society today.


Pilipino is a term used by some activists in the Pilipino-American community as means of challenging the way that Spanish and U.S. colonization of the islands also colonized the language by renaming them the Philippines after King Phillip, and introducing the anglicized "f" sound which did not exist in the indigenous languages there.

Cite this Article From: 22, no. 2 Winter 2007-2008 - Rethinking Schools

The Impact of Brown on Latinos: A Study of Transformation of Policy Intentions

by M. Beatrice Arias — 2005

Located in one of the most dynamic regions in the Bay Area known as the Silicon Valley, the San Jose Unified School District (SJUSD) spans a long and narrow area that has made it prone to student isolation. From north to south, the district extends approximately 26 miles, and from east to west, its width varies from 3 to 9 miles. Historically, the minority-segregated school populations have been concentrated in the older, relatively lower socio-economic status, northern end of the district. The northern extremity is traditionally where the newest (and generally the poorest) newcomers to the Santa Clara valley reside and thus is home to a large number of Latinos and immigrants from Southeast Asia. The southern part of the district has undergone extraordinary development, adding many new homes, and in the 1970s was the location for most new-school construction. The southern part is populated with predominately White upper-middle-class residents who commute to work in the high-technology industries in the northern end of the Silicon Valley. Because of the limited number of north-south routes within SJUSD, it takes approximately 50 minutes to travel from the northern end to the southern end of the district without traffic. This awkward geography challenged remedies for racial isolation.

In 1971, the parents of Arnulfo Diaz and Jose Vasquez, students at San Jose High School, filed a class action lawsuit on behalf of all Spanish-surnamed students against SJUSD, claiming that the district was operating an unconstitutionally segregated public school system. Originally filed as Diaz et al. v. San Jose Unified School District, over the years, the plaintiffs changed and the case came to be known as Vasquez et al. v. SJUSD.

The plaintiffs were defeated twice in federal district court on the grounds that although there was obvious minority student isolation in SJUSD, it was not a result of intentional district action. In 1984, the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals reversed the district court decision, finding that SJUSD had acted with segregative intent in maintaining racially identifiable schools. The circuit court found that SJUSD failed to comply with state desegregation guidelines, disregarded racial balance in planning sites for new schools, and used racial criteria inappropriately in the assignment of faculty and staff and in its policies concerning the busing of students for purposes other than desegregation.

The circuit court remanded the case to the district court, with orders to produce a judicial remedy to eliminate the unconstitutional segregation. The district court's deliberation resulted in the "Memorandum and Order regarding Desegregation Remedy," otherwise known as the Consent Decree of 1985. That document and the subsequent modified remedial orders of 1994 and 1998 guided desegregation efforts in San Jose until the parties reached a final settlement in 2003.

Thus, over the course of the 17-year implementation of the San Jose case, there were three major consent decrees or remedial orders. Each order mandated different approaches to increasing Latino student access and educational equality. Each consent decree or remedial order was crafted by different actors and represented different communities and interests. At each point, when a new order was designed, the demographic characteristics of the district had changed as the Latino student minority gradually became the majority. Additionally, over time, the political marginalization of the Latino community diminished, resulting in more Latino actors participating in policy articulation.

This article will review the transformation of desegregation policy in San Jose through an analysis of the changing court orders implemented between 1986 and 2003. I contend that these orders became more reflective of and responsive to Latino students' educational needs as the actors responsible for designing desegregation remedies included more Latinos and as the political marginalization of Latinos diminished. In this way, school desegregation in San Jose was not a stagnant policy in which an early-1980s view of an appropriate remedy was blindly implemented even as the population and politics of the district changed. Rather, as Hall's (1995) theory of transformation of intentions demonstrates, the ways in which various actors in desegregation cases—plaintiffs, advocates, lawyers, school officials, and so on—made sense of the purpose and meaning of a particular policy transformed over time.


The model of policy process most applicable to this study of desegregation policy is Hall's (1995) transformation of intentions model. This model focuses on linkages between levels or sites of social or policy activity. Linkages reveal how actors make relevant for themselves structural and historical contexts in the constitution of collective activity. This transformation of intentions approach focuses on the relationship between action, history, and social structure. It traces how a policy becomes a program and how the program becomes, or fails to become, institutionalized practice and how all of the above relate to factors such as the changing demographics of a school district and political power that members of more marginalized communities are able to garner. Hall (1995) stated,

the policy process occurs temporally through developmental phases and spatially across linked sites of responsibility. At each site and in each phase actors build on past consequences and through collective activity to further the process by constructing policy. Policy actors depend upon those who follow them to complete their intentions and set terms that both limit and facilitate later actions. . . . Later actors may reinforce, clarify, subvert and or amend initial intentions and content. . . . The analysis of the total policy process requires attention to action at each site/phase, contextual influences, and the network of site linkages that conveys the conditioning action. (p. 6)

Hall and McGinty (1997) and others spoke to the processual nature of the policy process, which is particularly important for the study of court-ordered school desegregation policy because of how judges' and plaintiffs' demands change over time. Thus, Hall (1995) argued that the policy process evolved from an overall pattern of relationships between actors, actors and sites, and between sites. The process was embedded in structural contexts and historical time. The sites and levels were organized and had distributions of power and resources and "ways" of doing policy that reinforced the organization and power distributions. Finally, Hall (1997) noted that the analysis of the "policy process requires attention to action at each site and phase, the contextual influences, and the network of site and phase linkages that convey the conditioning of action" (p. 443).

Heinecke (1997) applied Hall's transformation of intentions approach to a study of desegregation policy in a school in the Southwest. By focusing on the actors, sites, and structural contexts, he was able to show that

the desegregation policy as reflected in this case study can be seen as constructed and reconstructed over time and across sites in a series of action, interaction and negotiations. At each level the meaning and interpretation of the policy was renegotiated. Activity at previous sites had consequences for and affected the conditions of activity for actors at subsequent sites. . . . This case study provided evidence that the desegregation policy in its original intentions failed. This failure was socially constructed across time and site and phases of the policy process. (p. 363)

Thus, as Heinecke (1997) demonstrated, the transformation of intentions is a useful heuristic in the study of desegregation policy. In the following sections, I will apply it to my analysis of the transformation of desegregation policy in San Jose, focusing on specific sites and actors.


In conducting this case study of the San Jose desegregation plan, I gathered an extensive set of documents, including court documents, district reports, interviews with plaintiffs' attorneys, court monitor reports, research reports, and newspaper accounts collected between 1986 and 2003. In addition, I served as the court-appointed monitor for this case during the implementation of Vasquez v. SJUSD and thus was a participant observer in this process. As the court monitor, I functioned as the "eyes and ears" of the court and was responsible for reporting to the federal district court judge on the SJUSD's compliance with the components of the order.

Before I discuss the SJUSD case more specifically, however, I will present a brief overview of desegregation research and litigation and the extent to which the needs of Latino students have been examined.


As I noted, relatively little attention has been paid to the outcomes of desegregation efforts involving Latino students. This is due partly to the fact that during the most productive period of empirical research on the effects of desegregation on student outcomes—roughly 1968-1975—Latino students were not seen as the primary target of desegregation policy. Schofield (1995) noted that this was possibly due to the fact that the courts were still in the process of deciding whether Latino students could be treated as an identifiable ethnic minority. In her literature review, Schofield found little (and very dated) research on the impact of desegregation on Latino students. The principal work that she cited included a longitudinal study of more than 1,700 students, 650 of whom were Mexican American, in Riverside, California (Gerard & Miller, 1975). The authors concluded that desegregation did not significantly influence the achievement of any of the racial/ethnic groups, including the Mexican American children.

Other studies have reported positive effects of desegregation for Latino students. Using data from the National Longitudinal Student of High School graduating class of 1982, Crain and Mahard (1980) found a positive correlation between attendance at predominately White schools and the achievement scores of Cuban, Puerto Rican, and Mexican American students. Schofield (1995) summarized, "to my knowledge, there is no social evidence suggesting the negative outcomes of desegregation for Hispanic students" (p. 602).

However, Schofield (1995) also pointed out that correlations have been made that implicate segregation as a factor in the poor academic performance of many Latino students. For instance, several studies have documented the adverse educational conditions that Latino students have encountered in segregated schools. Other studies have noted a negative correlation between the proportion of a student body that is Hispanic and the overall level of student achievement. Although these studies cannot specifically attribute segregative conditions to limited Latino school performance, the fact is that most Latino students are concentrated in schools in which the achievement level is low and poverty is high.

Still, in reviewing the literature on the impact of desegregation on Latinos, it is important to note that these studies have not accounted for how the linguistic and cultural differences between African Americans and Latinos may affect desegregation's outcomes. Many Latino students are English Language Learners (ELLs) and thus may not know English when they enter school. Several authors, including Fernandez and Guskin (1981), Gonzalez, (1979), and Arias (1989), discuss how this language barrier is (or is not) addressed by desegregation remedies. These authors have suggested that it is possible to minimize the racial isolation of Latino ELLs in desegregation plans by assuring that programs that address their linguistic needs follow students. These authors also discuss the cultural differences within the Latino population between Cuban, Puerto Rican, and Mexican students and families. Many Latino students are recent immigrants and may benefit from newcomer schools or programs that assist in their transition into the American school culture.

Other studies of Latinos in desegregation settings have taken a more historical/ethnographic approach. For instance, San Miguel (1987) provides a historical review of the Latino struggle for equal education opportunity in Texas. In documenting the development of the Mexican American Legal Defense and Education Fund (MALDEF), San Miguel noted that between 1972 and 1975, MALDEF filed 39 school desegregation suits. He reviewed MALDEF's role in the 1970 Cisneros v. Corpus Christi case, in which a U.S. district court judge found that Mexican Americans were an identifiable ethnic minority on the basis of their physical characteristics, their Spanish language, their Catholic religion, their distinct culture, and their Spanish surnames. This Cisneros ruling stated that Mexican Americans were an identifiable ethnic minority group for desegregation purposes and that the Brown decision applied to them. San Miguel noted that once the class of plaintiffs—Mexican Americans—was identified, the MALDEF strategy focused on equalizing educational opportunity through the implementation of bilingual instruction rather than the elimination of racial isolation.

Despite the legal activism that brought about the Cisneros and other rulings, most Latinos were politically marginalized from influencing educational decisions that impacted their children. Orfield (1978) noted that the courts had ignored Latino segregation even when it was obvious:

From 1954 to 1973 the Supreme Court, most lower courts, and HEW had desegregated only blacks, usually ignoring the segregation of Hispanics, even when it was clearly present. . . . Decisions generally were based on the proposition that Mexican-Americans should simply be counted as whites and their distinctive needs ignored. . . . To give Mexican Americans special treatment in a desegregation plan, the

Court had to conclude that they, as a group, had been subjected to a system of pervasive official discrimination. (p. 203)

In 1973, the U.S. Supreme Court's ruling in the Keyes case in Denver affirmed the district court ruling in the Cisneros case by recognizing Latinos as victims of discrimination that must be remedied through school desegregation cases. In the Keyes case, the Supreme Court finally provided the recognition that Latinos constituted a distinct class:

There is much evidence in the Southwest that Hispanos and Negroes have a great many things in common. . . . Though of different origins, Negroes and Hispanos in Denver suffer identical discrimination in treatment when compared with the treatment afforded Anglo students. In that circumstance, we think petitioners are entitled to have schools with a combined predominance of Negroes and Hispanos included in the category of "segregated" schools. (Keyes v. School District No. 1)

However, Orfield (1978) commented that although the Keyes case settled the issue of desegregation for Chicanos in the Southwest, it did so in an unsatisfactory way. By equating Chicanos and Blacks and affirming that both should be accorded the same rights, the Court did not address important differences between the two groups—such as language acquisition needs—that would be meaningful at the remedy phase. This lack of clarity has allowed remedies designed to address the racial isolation of African Americans to be applied to Latinos without regard for the different aspects of language and culture that distinguish the educational needs of each group.

Furthermore, although numerous school desegregation efforts in the Southwest have included Latino plaintiffs or have been brought by Latino plaintiffs, there has been no systematic review of the type of remedies that have been implemented in these cases.

Using the transformation of intentions framework, I will review the components of the three court orders in the San Jose desegregation case, focusing on the actors, sites, and contexts for the negotiation of each. I will review how actors from the school district, the judiciary, and the San Jose community negotiated the development and implementation of remedies for Latino students.


The U.S. Circuit Court ruled in 1984 that the SJUSD had violated the constitutional rights of its students and ordered U.S. District Court Judge Robert F. Peckham to develop a remedy for implementation by 1986. At that time, the student enrollment in SJUSD totaled 30,565, of which 43% were minority and 57% were Anglo. The largest minority group was Hispanic 30% of the total population followed by Asian students, constituting 8.4%, and Blacks, who constituted only 2.4% of the total. Approximately 54% of the SJUSD's students were attending racially/ethically segregated schools.

Early on, speculation about the voluntary and mandatory aspects of the desegregation plan was debated in the press and by attorneys for both the Mexican American plaintiffs and the defendant school district. Representatives for the school district were staunchly against mandatory reassignment of students, or "busing." The president of the board, an actor at the local site, indicated, "If we have a mandate [to bus], we will have a loss of the white and bright." He concluded that "the neighborhood school has become like mom and apple pie over the years, people feel their children should be able to walk to school" (San Jose Mercury News [SJMN], 6/17/85).

In court, the superintendent of the SJUSD explained why the district designed its desegregation plan for its 37 schools around voluntary measures such as magnet schools. Raymond Cortines told Judge Peckham that his experience in Pasadena, where he was a superintendent during a decade of court-ordered desegregation, had led him to favor offering parents as much choice as possible. He also told the judge that the district had settled on its definition of desegregated schools and wanted more voluntary desegregation. Cortines said he was trying to avoid losing students because "students mean money to the district." Also, he wanted to stave off "major white and bright flight."



Commenting on the district's desegregation proposal, the superintendent stated, "I tend to agree with the experts that magnets are not an answer all to themselves . . . I want to naturally integrate by improving the quality of the schools. . . . Integration is not the goal unto itself, education is the goal" (SJMN, 6/16/85).

However, the mayor of San Jose looked askance at the proposed plan that involved closing schools in the central city. He likened this to tearing the heart out of a reviving area. He stated, "If the majority population doesn't want busing, and the minority population doesn't want busing, then what are we satisfying by a plan that would involve the closing of central San Jose schools and mandatory busing?" (SJMN, 10/26/85).

Separate plans submitted to the court by the plaintiffs and the district both required some mandatory busing. The district's plan was mostly voluntary, highlighted the creation of 15 new magnet schools, required one-way busing for minority students in the north, and closed San Jose High School (the original plaintiffs' home school) and two other predominantly Latino schools. Approximately 1,000 students, mostly Latino, would be bused. Under the district's plan, minority students not only would be forced to do most of the busing, but they would also lose many of their neighborhood schools.

The plaintiffs' plan included a "controlled choice" component, which divided the district into three attendance zones, transporting students within the zones. Approximately 6,000 students would be bused under this plan, and although Latino students would also lose their neighborhood schools, fewer schools would be closed, and busing would be shared more equally.

Latino community members, actors at the local site, reacted with hostility to the district's planned closure of the three schools, all located in Latino neighborhoods. The president of the Migrant Education Program, Maria Huerta, responded in the press, "I don't think it's right just because the majority of Latinos live on this side of town. I don't agree with the decision at all" (SJMN, 12/18/85). Lawyers for the plaintiffs also found the district's plan unacceptable because the magnet solution was perceived as a partial, not a holistic, plan. "We were of the opinion, based on the advice of a nationally known expert, that partial plans don't work," said Rebecca Thompson, a lawyer for the Legal Aid Society of Santa Clara (SJMN, 8/16/85).

According to Sophia Mendoza, a community activist who opposed the district's proposed desegregation plan, "I don't think that the intent of the parents who filed it [the law suit] was to bus our children to the other side of town" (SJMN, 10/8/85).

As community leaders complained that Hispanic children would have to bear an unfair portion of the burden of the busing plan, downtown residents organized as the Community for a Fair Desegregation Plan and opposed the district's proposal.

Another concern is whether there is a disproportionate burden on the minority students when you close the downtown schools in the north and send the students south, we knew they were going to close some schools but we didn't know where. In looking at it, we'll ask how that would affect minority students and if there is a disproportionate effect on them. (SJMN, 10/1/85)

According to Arnulfo Diaz, one of the original plaintiffs in the court case, "We didn't want schools closed. We only wanted all schools to be the same, to provide the same education for all children" (SJMN, 12/18/85). Local social scientists weighed in on the district's plan. For instance, Tom Pettigrew, professor of social psychology at UC Santa Cruz, commented,

It's asking them to do everything and so it's like asking the victim of a robbery to compensate for the loss. That is, the victims of segregation are asked to bear the brunt of the remedy. It's a politically expedient plan, it bends to the pressures that I'm sure must be on the school people in San Jose and I feel for them. It bends to the fact that white people really run the city of San Jose. (SJMN, 12/8/85)

Absent representation on the school board, school district leadership, and local political influence, the Latino voice was clearly missing in the deliberations regarding the development of the San Jose remedy. Furthermore, the desegregation plans that were being proposed hailed from cities like Milwaukee and Buffalo, which had relatively few Latino students at the time. The focus of these plans was to reduce racial isolation, and little consideration was given to linguistic isolation or other remedies that might be appropriate for Latino students. In this manner, the meaning of desegregation was worked out by the actors in the first phase. As in Heinecke's study (1997), the conventions and practices of the legal process itself promoted the interest of the Anglo community and the school district over the interest of the minority community. It would be at least a decade before a remedial plan that reflected the needs of the Latino community would be considered.


In the end, the district court judge fashioned a compromise remedy that layered the district's voluntary transfer approach based on magnet schools with the plaintiffs' mandatory approach, which included a modified controlled choice plan, standardized racial and ethic enrollment ratios, timetables, and goals. The desegregation order, which came in the form of a consent decree that included a remedial order, affected all district schools 23 elementary schools, 7 middle schools, and 7 high schools. The schools in the northern sector of the district were not closed, but instead became magnet schools.

The judge's order stated that "the desegregation of the San Jose School District will be accomplished over the next four or five years by a plan that relies heavily on the use of magnet schools and specialty enrichment programs to encourage voluntary transfers for the purpose of desegregation" (Diaz v. San Jose Unified School Dist., 1985, hereafter referred to as the "remedial order").

The goal of the remedial order was to reduce the racial isolation of minority students through a controlled choice assignment process coupled with a voluntary magnet school program. A new school choice program was initiated, eliminating the neighborhood school system of enrollment. School enrollment was conducted at three enrollment centers.

In designing this compromise remedy, Judge Peckham underscored the importance of school choice, the voluntary aspect, of the plan: "The requirement that each student make such a choice means. . . that parents and students will give genuine consideration to which schools are most suited to their interest and whether their neighborhood schools is necessarily the best selection" (1985 remedial order).

In order to implement the controlled choice system, the district developed a two-stage enrollment strategy. In Phase 1, parents could choose from any school in the district. All parents were sent a "Catalog of Educational Opportunities," which contained information on the desegregation process and descriptions of the educational program at each of the district's schools. The catalog was made available in English, Portuguese, Spanish, and Vietnamese. The district attempted to assign all students to their first choice unless school program capacities were reached or enrollment caps had been imposed. In Phase 2, new students registered their choices for school assignment and were assigned to those schools with space remaining.

The remedial order required the district to establish criteria for waitlisting and appealing student assignment. The judge ordered extensive data collection regarding student characteristics, choice, and participation in curricular programs. A court monitor was appointed to serve as the "eyes and ears" of the court and report district compliance with the court order.

It is interesting that, given the linguistic characteristics of the plaintiff class, which included many English Language Learners (ELLs), little consideration was made in the 1985 consent decree for specific educational programs that could enhance educational opportunity for Latinos. In fact, the remedial order only included one mention of bilingual programs:

So long as present funding continues, San Jose Unified School District commits to the continuation of its present bilingual-multi-cultural program to serve the needs of limited English proficient students. SJUSD retains the right, however, to modify this program for the purpose of serving the goal of acquiring English Language proficiency and the goal of fostering academic skills in content areas.

At the time of this order, SJUSD pledged to support bilingual education, but it did not clearly promise to locate the program at specific schools or assure students that the program would continue in following years. In subsequent orders in this case, the educational components of desegregation reform would become the central focus of the remedies, and bilingual education would be a key component.

In retrospect, few of the plaintiffs' original concerns—equality of school facilities, access to the core curriculum (through bilingual education), access to advanced educational opportunity, and short busing schedules—were addressed by the remedial order. Instead, the order focused on the social engineering necessary to desegregate the schools and attain specific enrollment ratios based on ethnicity. It did not have educational components, provisions for specific curricular interventions, or programs outside those that specialty magnet schools might implement. The major concession that the plaintiff class received was that the three schools that the district had proposed to close, located in the Latino community, would not be closed. However, Latino enrollment in these schools became much more limited because they were converted into district magnet schools with stringent enrollment criteria that limited the number of Latino students who could attend.

The "controlled choice" plan advocated by the plaintiff attorneys made no provisions for bilingual programs to follow students. Thus, once Latino students participated in the choice process, they frequently found themselves enrolled in schools far from their homes, requiring them to endure long bus rides only to find no special programs or staff at their new schools to address their language acquisition needs.

The consent decree of 1985 and its remedial order were designed by Judge Peckham, who was driven primarily by the goal of racial balance and thus relied heavily on the controlled choice system that had proved effective in Cambridge, Massachusetts, and Buffalo, New York—districts that did not, at that time, have the linguistic and cultural diversity of San Jose. In 1985, desegregation case remedies were still very focused on the elimination of racial isolation through voluntary and mandatory student reassignment. There was little consideration of the specific educational needs or unique attributes of Latino students that required tailored curricular approaches.

One year after the initiation of this school desegregation plan, the local newspaper ran a series of stories documenting that hundreds of students who spoke little or no English were arriving in schools where there was no special help and no materials, translators, or tutors: "The second-language programs we had in the district were primarily located in the northern part of the district . . . but the student reassignment in southern schools increased considerably" reported the superintendent (SJMN, 12/14/86).

The article noted that approximately 350 non-English-speaking students were attending 10 elementary schools that did not offer any bilingual classes. The need for a remedy designed to address the needs of ELLs, although recognized, was not yet a formal part of the desegregation plan.

Using both a voluntary and mandatory enrollment plan, the district achieved complete (100%) desegregation before the court-imposed deadline. By fall 1989, the district desegregated its magnet schools and all of its previously segregated schools. The mandatory and voluntary components of the student assignment and enrollment program continued K-12 until 1993.


In 1991, a series of reports and newspaper articles revealed that after 5 years of desegregation efforts, Hispanic students had fared little better than if they had never left their neighborhood schools. As the court monitor, I wrote "Five Year Summative Report" for 1986-1990, which reviewed transportation data that indicated that minority students had borne the burden of transportation (Arias, 1991). Latino students were riding more buses for farther distances and longer rides than Anglo students. Furthermore, the plaintiff class was also limited in the range of school choices because Latino students often missed the deadline for Phase 1 choices. As a result, the mandatory assignment practices disproportionately affected students who enrolled "late" in the registration process, primarily students new to the district and minority students. Furthermore, Latino students were not able to enroll in magnet schools located in their neighborhoods because of the more stringent enrollment ratios required by the magnet schools. Ironically, the choice plan resulted in little choice for most Latino students.

Yet perhaps more important, the monitor's report suggested that the instructional needs of Latino students were not being met by the decree. Although the decree had stated that second-language services should not be compromised, the monitor reported that ELLs were being assigned to schools that did not have instructional programs appropriate to their needs. One out of every four elementary schools had no bilingual teachers. The court monitor also found that there was an overrepresentation of Latino students receiving suspensions, dropping out of school, and being retained. Meanwhile, Latino families were far more likely to have their student assignment appeals denied.

A series of award-winning newspaper articles were published in May and June of 1991 that echoed findings similar to the monitor's report. The thrust of these articles was that although all the schools closely reflected the district's ethnic makeup, this change had done little to bring Latino children into the mainstream of academic or social life. Disproportionate numbers of suspensions and retentions were cited, as were low achievement scores for Hispanic students, who scored two grade levels below the district average. The newspaper articles also cited subtle resegregation of Latino students into remedial classes instead of honors classes, and consumer math rather than calculus. Yet even in the lower level classes, two out of three Hispanic middle school and high school students received at least one D or F. Finally, out of 198 elementary students who were retained, 132 were Latino even though Latino students made up 44% of the student body at those grade levels.

A Latino community activist commented, "Our kids were supposed to be the winners of the suit . . . I don't know exactly what we won" (SJMN, 5/30/ 91). At this point, it was clear that the remedy ordered by the consent decree, which resulted in significant busing of minority students, had attained integration but not the equalization of educational opportunity.

Thus, by the early 1990s, it was clear that the central and most prominent goal of the initial remedial order—the elimination of racial isolation—was accomplished. Yet, what was also clear was that this order had not eliminated many of the "vestiges" of the district's segregative practices. The legal result of this mismatch was the remedial order of 1994 and the stipulated modified remedial order of 1999, which focused on educational reforms rather than on student assignment plans.


The context in which the 1994 remedial order was developed differed significantly from the context of the original order. Demographic changes, for example, had made Latinos the new "majority minority community." Furthermore, there were new actors: a new superintendent and a new presiding judge. And finally, the voices of the Latino community would be heard through demonstrations and leadership.

The SJUSD's Annual Report acknowledged the demographic changes:

Between the time this lawsuit was filed and the 1992-93 academic year, the percentages of the District's white and non-white student populations have completely reversed . . . as the elementary student population figures illustrate, this reversal continues with each incoming class . . . as this trend continues, meaningful interracial exposure and racial balance become increasingly an illusion. (SJUSD, 1993)

As I noted above, at the time of implementation of the initial remedial order, Hispanics constituted 30% of the student population. By 1992-1993, Hispanics were 44% of the student population. Concurrently, the White student population had decreased from 57% in 1985 to 36% in 1992-1993. Thus, the combined minority population—Latino 44%, Asian 13%, African American 3%, and American Indian, 1% had become the majority student population.

At the same time, demographers were reporting that Hispanics, the largest minority group in Santa Clara County at 21%, experienced increased residential segregation and were the most segregated minority group locally. San Jose ranked in the top quarter of cities nationwide with the most heavily segregated Hispanic population, along with cities such as Miami, San Antonio, and Fresno (SJMN, 6/23/96).

Despite this high degree of segregation among Latinos, or perhaps in part because of it, the local politics had changed along with the demographics. Members of the Latino community had indicated that they felt disenfranchised and that the desegregation court order was slighting Latino children (SJMN, 5/24/93). "This district has chosen to interpret the desegregation order in the crudest way, shifting people from one side of town to the other" said a Latino community group leader (SJMN, 5/24/93). Frustration was mounting, and Latinos were not going to simply accept whatever came their way.

What makes me angry is that there was a time that I actually thought that we were going to find solutions to the problems that I had gone through as a student. Deep, deep in my heart, I really thought that my kids would not have to deal with the same problems I went through. (SJMN, 5/10/93)

Two weeks before the new superintendent took charge, turmoil broke out between Latinos and Whites at a high school. A Latino student walkout and demands from Latino community organizers underscored the conflict. A community leader warned, "We are a volcano. And if you can't hear us rumbling, something is wrong. ... There is a lack of will to find a solution. . . . Chicano students feel ostracized every day of the year" (SJMN, 5/10/93).

Community representatives for the plaintiff class made it clear that the Latino community had borne the burden of transportation, and yet educational access and equity were not readily available at the new school site. The Latino community had participated in, but had not benefited educationally from, the desegregation remedy. Many supported racially isolated schools as the reality of the new demographics. Attorneys for the plaintiff class now had an opportunity to design desegregation remedies with educational outcomes, educational programs that would address the achievement and access issues pervasive in the community.

The new superintendent came from Broward County, Florida, where more than 60,000 students were bused for desegregation, many of whom were second-language learners. From the time she was appointed, she attempted to mend fences with the outraged Latino community. One of her first administrative actions was to appoint a Latina administrator to the court-mandated position of director of desegregation. This new director of desegregation came to the district with experience in implementing reforms for Latino students. Together, these administrators advocated specific educational remedies targeted toward the plaintiff class. The superintendent's strategy was to maximize the use of desegregation funds for the improvement of educational equity for Latinos.

In addition to this new district leadership, in February 1993, U.S. District Court Judge Peckham died unexpectedly of complications related to heart illness. He had presided over the Diaz v. San Jose Unified School District desegregation case from its inception in 1971. U.S. District Court Judge Ronald M. Whyte, a George H. W. Bush appointee, was assigned to the San Jose case. To facilitate the transition of the case from Judge Peckham to Judge Whyte, the court monitor prepared a report summarizing the outcomes of the student assignment plan and district compliance with the order.

This report highlighted that the district had achieved the desegregation goal, but as predicted, it had been achieved through practices that placed the burden of desegregation on the minority students. In this context of community disaffection and dissatisfaction with the original remedial order, Judge Whyte ordered the parties to enter into discussions under the supervision of a mediation judge.

Those who came to the table represented an entire new slate of actors: a new superintendent, a new judge, and a majority minority community, all united to focus on educational remedies that could be derived from the remedial order.

Applying the lens of transformation of intentions, it is important to recognize that the first remedial order set the stage for the policy that would succeed it; that is, by focusing on one goal student integration the original consent decree did not elaborate remedies for alleviating the educational inequity endured by the plaintiff class. It is probably accurate to state that the plaintiffs were primarily interested in educational opportunity, yet their attorneys negotiated a remedy focused on the elimination of racial isolation. The remedies designed and instituted under the first remedial order did not go far enough to assure that the educational needs of Latino students were being met. The stage was set for negotiations between plaintiffs and the school district to develop and implement educational remedies for the plaintiff class.

As Hall and McGinty (1997) noted regarding the cyclical nature of the policy process,

Policy actors depend upon those who follow them to complete their intentions and set terms that both limit and facilitate later actions. The transformation of intentions informs scholars of the policy process how it is possible to take into account multiple policy cycles as the policy process continues from phase to phase and among linked sites, (p. 463)


The 1994 remedial order represented a transformation of the intentions of desegregation policy. The focus of this document represents a shift from an emphasis on the goal of eliminating racial isolation to a greater emphasis on the provision of equal educational opportunity. This shift was possible not only because of the demographic and political changes cited above, but also because the district wanted to continue collecting funds for court-ordered desegregation from the state, and the new district court judge wanted to give the parties a chance to meet their goals.

According to the 1994 modified remedial order, the SJUSD was to implement the following:

1: Redefine segregated/desegregated schools, allowing for schools that could be racially identifiable

2: Establish comprehensive educational programs for Latino students, including

A Bilingual education at the elementary level B ESL at the secondary level

C Access to the core curriculum through the elimination of course prerequisites

D Accelerated programs for middle school students

E Plans for access to extracurricular activities, GATE and accelerated classes, and special education

3: Create a student database to determine district compliance with the order

Priority was given to educational programs that furthered educational access and opportunity for minority students. Racially isolated schools were no longer identified according to their percentage of "combined minority" populations, which included any students of color. Rather, the desegregation standard was to be applied to the percentage of White and Latino students enrolled. Similarly, the standard for desegregated classrooms was now to be computed as the ratio between Whites and Latinos.

The racial balancing of all schools was no longer the goal. Exceptions were allowed, thus permitting schools to revert to segregated status. Over a 3-year period, under the remedial order, the district allowed five elementary schools to become identifiable White and seven elementary schools to become identifiable Latino. Over a 2-year period, two middle schools and two high schools were also allowed to become racially identifiable. The predominantly Latino segregated schools were slated to receive "programmatic enhancements" to benefit all Latino students at each school, including higher per-student expenditures than other schools.

The 1994 remedial order was much more directive in terms of the educational programs available in the schools than its predecessor. It committed the district to a broad program for all limited English proficient (LEP) students, including dedicated bilingual programs and schools. The district promised to revise its general program for LEP students, including expanded teacher and parent training as part of its remedial effort. The district also committed to implementing two programs: a transitional bilingual program (TBE) and an English language development program (ELD). A dual-language (Spanish/English) magnet school was added to the district's comprehensive programs for ELLs. The district's manager of bilingual education was upgraded to director position as part of the remedial order, and a position entitled Parent Liaison for Desegregation was created, with the responsibility of maximizing parental participation. Other programs prescribed by the remedial order included a Gifted and Talented Education (GATE) program, which was to be racially balanced, and multiple criteria for identifying potentially gifted Latino students. At the secondary level, an accelerated learning program was to be implemented over 3 years at all the middle schools. The remedial order also required the elimination of many of the high school prerequisites and the recruitment of Latino students into advanced and elective courses.

The 1994 remedial order required the district to report annually to the court on its progress in meeting compliance. It established a monitoring system that would evaluate each school's progress in reaching those goals and identify areas needing school improvement. The parameters of an extensive database were established. The court monitor's role was defined more narrowly to review the reports submitted by the district and verify the validity of those reports.


The transformation of intentions from the focus on the elimination of racial isolation to the priority of creating educational programs to address the needs of Latino students was not complete with the 1994 remedial order. Although there was less busing of students for racial balance, students were still bused outside their neighborhood attendance areas, and this rankled both majority and minority parents. By 1996, a revision to the enrollment process was implemented, which resulted in voluntary assignment and the return to racially isolated schools. There would be a 3-year phase-in period, after which the only middle and secondary schools would have enrollment ratios required by controlled choice.

An article in the local newspaper stated that the plaintiffs in the desegregation case argued that although many Latino parents do not want their children to bear the burden of busing, they also do not want them to be isolated in inferior local schools. A Latino parent resident of the northern area stated, "Personally, I'm for kids going to neighborhood schools. The key is the quality of education" (SJMN, 6/23/96).

A common attitude among the plaintiffs in the case was reflected in this statement by one of them in the local newspaper: "Busing children into neighborhoods where they're obviously not wanted, where they see an obvious discrepancy between rich and poor, children realize they're part of the underclass" (SJMN, 9/10/96).

The district was also encountering community backlash against the changing demographics. Members of the affluent Almaden Valley neighborhoods on the southern end of the district began a secession movement. They wanted to create their own predominantly White and more affluent school system separate from SJUSD. Meanwhile, at several elementary schools in the southern part of the district, where large numbers of Spanish-speaking students were assigned, parents were demanding all-English instruction.

At the national level, many districts had begun to dismantle mandatory busing as their school desegregation remedy. By the mid-1990s Denver, Norfolk, and Oklahoma City were dismantling their busing programs, and Pittsburgh was considering a proposal do to the same. The district wanted to alter the remedial order student assignment provisions, allowing more elementary school children to attend their neighborhood schools. The plaintiffs hoped that a return to neighborhood schools would increase parental involvement, create a sense of community, and result in academic gains. Superintendent Murray acknowledged the trend: "Courts are looking very favorably on plans to return kids to neighborhood schools. Most elementary school parents want neighborhood schools" (SJMN, 5/12/96).

With both plaintiffs and defendants in agreement on the importance of neighborhood schools, the stage was set for negotiations to further modify the 1994 remedial order. The actors in this transformation effort were primarily the attorneys for the plaintiffs and the district. The transformation was announced on the steps of the U.S. district courthouse in December 1996, when Francisco Garcia, the attorney representing the plaintiffs, announced, "Today we said we're willing to work with the district on the initial objectives of the [lawsuit]—not busing, but achievement" (SJMN, 12/19/96). The 1996 plan proposed that beginning with the 1997-1998 school year, student assignment would still be conducted through the choice process and enrollment centers for middle and high school students, but elementary students would now be able to enroll at their neighborhood schools. However, all the instructional requirements of the 1994 remedial order—including dedicated bilingual schools, bilingual classrooms, accelerated education programs, gifted and talented programs, and access to core curricular activities—continued to apply to K-12.


In July 1998, Proposition 227 became California Education Code Section 300, which required all California school districts to instruct children, including specifically LEP students, in English language classrooms and not in bilingual education classrooms. This ruling had the potential to undermine the bilingual programs that had been designed as educational reform for Latino students in SJUSD as part of the remedial order. Attorneys for the district and the plaintiffs united in asking the court to rule that the bilingual education programs in San Jose had been designed as a desegregation remedy. Because San Jose was operating under the direction of a federal court order, it was possible for the judge to invoke the "supremacy" principle that maintains that federal law supersedes state mandates. The consent decree required that the district provide ELLs who were members of the plaintiff class with bilingual services. This order allowed San Jose to become one of the few California school districts that were not required to dismantle their bilingual programs. In fact, under the remedial order, the bilingual in SJUSD thrived, becoming more instructionally sound and well defined (see description of Academic Language Acquisition [ALA] program below).


By the late 1990s, the larger social and political context of the district had changed quite a bit from the mid-1980s. Latinos constituted a majority on the school board, and their representation had increased significantly in the district's administration, the litigation team, and at the state and local levels, dramatically altering the marginalization of the Latino voice. Thus, by the time the 1999 remedial order was handed down, Latinos constituted a majority on the school board—three out of five. In addition, the associate superintendent and three senior directors were Latino. Latinos were also better represented among the ranks of school principals.

With this political backdrop, in March 1999, Judge Whyte signed into effect the final remedial order in the San Jose desegregation case, now titled Vasquez v. San Jose Unified School District.1 This remedial order supersedes the 1994 remedial order and incorporates the revised student assignment plan approved in 1996. The district had been meeting and conferring with the plaintiffs' attorney with regard to modifications of the instructional components for ELLs as a result of its internal assessments of the academic progress and low redesignation of bilingual students to English-only classrooms.

The district's annual reports for 1996 and 1997 indicated very low re-designation rates (the rate at which ELLs are mainstreamed into English-only classrooms) and low achievement rates persisting for the plaintiff class. The district reported to Judge Whyte that it had negotiated a new stipulated modified remedial order with the plaintiffs and requested court approval.

The major components of the 1999 stipulated modified remedial order included:

1 A modification of the desegregation goals, allowing voluntary student assignment for all elementary students and "choice-driven" assignments for most middle and high school students, with some mandatory assignments

2 Assurance of a programmatic enhancement fee for racially identifiable schools calculated at $25 per student

3 Maintenance of magnet schools

4 Goal setting for programs for ELLs, including comprehensive detailed curricular reform, Academic Language Acquisition (ALA), and Success for All (SFA)

5 Curricular access specified through districtwide reform; assure access to advanced placement and IB classes for plaintiff class

The 1999 remedial order presents a very detailed programmatic description of the services that will be provided to ELLs. This reform is the most clearly articulated educational intervention proposed by the district since the inception of the original court order.

The 1999 remedial order maintained voluntary provisions for elementary student assignment K-5 and continued four districtwide magnet schools, including the River Glen Dual Immersion Program and the Hammer Montessori School. All middle school and high school students participated in the controlled choice enrollment established with the original consent decree of 1986. Furthermore, extra funding, known as the programmatic enhancement program, was provided for elementary and secondary schools with a Latino student population exceeding the districtwide Latino enrollment target by 20% or more. Two elementary schools offered support services, including a dropout prevention counselor, a resource teacher, and a nurse.

As part of the new remedial order, the parties agreed to the implementation of the ALA program, a program designed to be effective for ELLs in the plaintiff class. This program was to provide English language acquisition as quickly and efficiently as possible in 16 schools. In addition, eight elementary schools are identified for the SFA literacy program that has been implemented in thousands of low-income schools across the country.

Furthermore, each curricular reform was presented with goals, provisions, and accountability. The district committed to extensive professional development in order to sustain the programs that it proposed. Significantly, at the secondary level, the district affirmed that it would recruit and encourage Latino student participation in advanced electives, courses, and activities.

Two components of the original remedial order were retained in the 1999 remedial order. The first was the provision of magnet schools. In fact, two new magnet programs were created in 1999—the Dual Language Program and the Montessori Program—both of which reflected the interests of the plaintiff class. The second component continued from the original remedial order was the controlled choice program for middle and secondary students.

Programs for ELLs, which were briefly acknowledged in the 1986 consent decree, were fully articulated and expanded in the 1999 remedial order. Perhaps most important, in the 1999 remedial order, the district committed to the complexity of curricular access and educational equity by clearly articulating reforms that address Latino student achievement.


Although attorneys for the plaintiff class in San Jose desegregation case won the first round of litigation in the mid-1980s, Latino parent and community participation in the development of the 1985 remedial order was nonexistent. Latinos were not involved in developing the remedy that was imposed on them. Reforms addressing the educational access of Latino students were not part of the original consent decree. That it was possible to implement "controlled choice" despite the objections of the plaintiff class underscores the disaffection of the Latino community. By 1991, the community was asking, "What did we win?"



The district, on the other hand, was able to improve its financial condition by accepting state funds for the implementation of court-ordered desegregation. For the district, losing the lawsuit was like winning the lottery. Yet at the same time that the district received this additional state support, it did not want to alienate majority parents. The district leaders at that time wanted a remedy that would avoid the flight of the White and "the bright" by giving White parents choice.

A significant change in actors and contexts ushered in the transformation of desegregation remedies. The majority/minority student ratio changed between 1991 and 1994, and Latino students became the majority minority in the district. Furthermore, the greater representation of Latinos on the school board, in the district's central office, on the litigation team for the plaintiffs, and in leadership positions at the school level was instrumental in transforming the intensions and the scope of these orders.

The collective pressure from Latinos within and outside the school district paved the way to shift the focus of the remedy from solely the elimination of racial isolation to equal educational opportunity. Community disaffection with the way in which the busing plan was implemented put pressure on the district and plaintiffs to negotiate a remedy that would restore neighborhood schools and segregated schools. The Latino community accepted 16 segregated schools in exchange for programmatic enhancements for the students in these schools.

Meanwhile, the state continued to fund the district's desegregation eff